New York is set to break its visitor number records this year as sales from the UK pick up. The city’s preliminary results for the first half of the year showed that 23.5 million people visited New York from January to the end of June. This is an 8.75% increase compared to last year. “The first half of 2010 has been particularly strong and our early projections show a return to record-breaking visitation levels,” said NYC & Company CEO George Fertitta. New York is now on target to welcome 4.2% more visitors than 2009 which would result in a record-breaking 47.5 million guests. These figures have been matched across the industry as hotel occupancy increased 6.8%, Amtrak’s non-commuter passengers rose 9.4% and the city’s three major airports reported that arrivals were up 1.2%. Meanwhile in the UK, travel agents and tour operators have seen a rise in bookings to the city for the peak winter season. “Popularity in New York has increased so much that it is now difficult to get availability during the peak period from late November to December,” Letsgo2.com Managing Director Keith Naylor told Travel Daily. “It has also been a popular destination but with the exchange rate up it is more affordable to book a package.” He said that couples were more likely to go to the city on a long weekend. “Duration has probably increased from last year to three or four nights,” said Naylor. This would typically be a trip from Thursday to Sunday or Friday to Monday. Naylor added that the city, and indeed US’, tourism would not be affected by the upcoming ESTA fees. “People understand that this is a government fee and not ‘for the sake of it’,” he explained.