It was a banner year for tourism in New Bedford in 2016. That's from Tourism Director Dagny Ashley.

Based on preliminary figures so far, she estimates tourism in 2016 rose 13% over the previous year, with most of the visitors coming from Massachusetts and other northeast states. "Forty-nine percent come from Massachusetts, and then the rest comes from Northeast states like New York and Pennsylvania. Four percent of our visitors come from other countries."

Photo: City of New Bedford

Ashley says the visitor numbers are an aggregate, compiled by various attractions in the city, including the Whaling Museum, the Whaling National Park, Buttonwood Park Zoo, the Art Museum and so on.

Ashley tells WBSM News, the jump in visitors points out an ever-increasing need for more hotel space. "There is a demand for that," says Ashley. "Fairfield Inn by Marriott does really well on the waterfront, and we can see the demand for another hotel in the downtown area."

The city has announced plans for a private developer to transform the building at the southwest corner of Pleasant and Union Streets into a boutique hotel, with construction to begun sometime in 2017.