By Antonio Caban
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE — Highlighting the continued surge in international travel to Boston, Gov. Charlie Baker joined with tourism officials Friday at a hotel near Logan International Airport to recognize a record increase in visitors last year and the impact it has had on the state as a whole.
According to the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau (GBCVB), more than 1.4 million overseas visitors came to explore Boston in 2014, a 10.1 percent boost over the previous year. International tourists spent more than $1 billion during their stay, according the bureau.
While leisure travel was the most common purpose for travelling to Boston from overseas, the statistics also showed an increase in business-related visits by 13.8 percent.
The announcement showcasing positive gains in international tourism took place at the Hyatt Boston Harbor hotel in East Boston where Baker was joined by Pat Moscaritolo, executive director at GBCVB; Cindy Brown, CEO Boston Duck Tours; Angela Vento, general manager Sheraton Boston; Anders Lindstrom, U.S. director of communications for Norwegian Airlines; and Thomas Glynn, CEO of Massport.
A majority, 56 percent, of visitors traveling through Boston considered Massachusetts their main travel destination, making the Commonwealth the seventh most popular state to visit for overseas travelers after New York, Florida, California, Hawaii, Nevada and Texas, according to the United States Department of Commerce International Trade Administration.
Air travelers from China in 2014 beat out those from Great Britain as the most frequent visitors to Boston. The GBCVB, citing the commerce department, reported a 65 percent increase in travel from China compared with 2013. The city drew 173,000 Chinese travelers, compared with 159,000 visitors from The United Kingdom, which came in second place. The department attributed the bump in visitors from China to the launch of nonstop service to Beijing last June out of Logan Airport.
The details on travel numbers come after the Legislature successfully voted in July to override $5.17 million in vetoed funding by Baker from the state budget for the state Office of Travel and Tourism. The Baker administration said that tourism funding was still due to see an increase over fiscal 2015.
The Massachusetts Democratic Party challenged Baker’s appearance at the Friday event accusing him of taking credit for “successes that are clearly the result of proactive investments made by Massachusetts’ Democratic leadership,” after an earlier attempt by the Republican to slash funding to state tourism.
“Massachusetts voters are far too smart to be fooled by a press conference on tourism after watching his near elimination of regional tourism funding during this year’s budget debate,” Massachusetts Democratic Partyspokesman Pat Beaudry said in a statement.
Earlier this week, Baker adamantly defended Boston as a “world class city” in response to the belief amongst some that Boston’s failed 2024 Olympic bid could hurt the city’s reputation on the world stage.
Boston attracted 4.1 percent of all overseas visitors to the country in 2014, increasing the city’s national market share by 0.1 percent, according to the GBCVB.