New York's tourism industry has rebounded in a big way since pandemic lockdowns began more than four years ago, according to a new state report on travel released ahead of an extended Fourth of July weekend.

An analysis of travel by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli found people are visiting New York state close to pre-2020 levels. But there are still some challenges to face.

Ulster County Tourism Director Lisa Berger said there’s no better time to visit the Hudson Valley than right now.

“Visitor spending has grown 127% since 2019. That's the year before the pandemic, and that was a record year,” Berger said.

Across all of New York, domestic travel and tourism spending levels are surpassing pre-2020 levels, according to the comptroller's report. Non-work trips to New York increased more than 30% from 2020 to 2022.

Visit Buffalo Niagara President and CEO Patrick Kaler said it's seeing interest in Western New York as well.

“Following the pandemic, people were going on those bucket-list trips. But now, they're really focusing more on staying in the United States for different travel. And we're starting to see some really great numbers coming out of Washington, D.C., Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago,” Kaler said.

Berger’s region has also seen more visitors from Pennsylvania, Canada and other states than they did in 2019.

Kaler says those visitors are crucial for tourism.

“And what's great about those markets are that they're truly committing to coming to Buffalo. So they're going to come spend more time here, and obviously spend more money while they're here as well,” Kaler said.

There has been one challenge still to overcome – a lacking workforce to fill the increasing need for hospitality jobs.

Berger said it is something counties will need to address if they don’t want to lose the tourism gains.

“People left this industry during the pandemic," she said. "This industry was really shut down for a long part of it, and that was very difficult. And I think that they found jobs somewhere else. So now we have to interact, we have to interest like a whole new group of people in wanting to go into hospitality and tourism jobs.”

The comptroller's report draws a similar conclusion: Lawmakers will need to extend support to all of the recreational and cultural resources that draws people to New York.