By Julie Shapiro
LOWER MANHATTAN — Tourism downtown has swelled nearly 30 percent since 2008, a new study found.
Thanks to attractions like the South Street Seaport, Ground Zero and Governors Island, the neighborhood below Chambers Street drew 9 million visitors in 2010, up from 7 million in 2008 and 8 million in 2009, the Downtown Alliance said this week.
"Tourism is thriving in Lower Manhattan," Liz Berger, president of the Alliance, said in a statement. "Business travelers remain a significant market element, but the growth of leisure visitors and special events shows that lower Manhattan is a destination of choice in the region, nationally and around the world."
City officials expect millions more people to visit lower Manhattan starting this fall, when the 9/11 memorial opens to the public. The city is working on a plan to manage all the extra traffic and to encourage the visitors to support local businesses while they are in town.
The tourism boom may be connected to the opening of five new hotels downtown last year, including the 220-room W New York Downtown and 253-room Andaz Wall Street. In all, the number of hotels below Chambers Street has more than tripled since 9/11.
Downtown's residential population has also grown, from 24,000 in 2000 to 56,000 today, the Alliance said.