New York City is predicting 2019 will be the second-largest year on record for UK visitor numbers and is forecasting the overall record will be broken in 2020.

The city expects to welcome 1.308 million UK visitors in 2019, up from 1.259 million in 2018, and predicts the figure will rise to 1.346 million in 2020.

The previous record was set in 2008, when 1.328 million British travellers visited New York with exchange rates around two dollars to the pound.

Speaking at WTM, Fred Dixon, chief executive of NYC & Company, said: “These numbers demonstrate the confidence and familiarity that the British market has with New York, allied with a monumental year of development and events in 2019.

“Although there were contributing (one-off) factors such as World Pride, which was the biggest pride event in history, we are looking to 2020 with confidence and projecting further growth.”

Dixon said the split of traffic from the UK remained consistent, with leisure visitors accounting for 80% of the total, but said the family market continued to grow in importance.

Focuses for 2020 will include arts and culture and the 50th anniversary of the New York Marathon, with friends and relatives encouraged to join runners in the city for the landmark event.

Dixon added: “Hotel expansion means that room rates remain very affordable, so we have benefited from that in addition to airlines’ tactical activity to ensure this significant route remains strong.”