Figures released this week suggested that Orlando, home to the Disney World resort, had reasserted itself over New York, receiving 51.5 million visits last year compared to its rival’s 48.7 million.
Both cities had been racing to break the 50 million barrier after Michael Bloomberg, the Mayor of New York, claimed last year that his city had surpassed Orlando, the longstanding leader in visitor numbers.
Officials in Orlando always disputed this, and they appear to have been vindicated by the newly released figures.
Buddy Dyer, Mr Bloomberg’s counterpart in Orlando, said: “What great news to lead the entire nation”.
Yet George Fertitta, New York’s tourism chief, alleged that Orlando had over-counted by including areas technically outside the city limits, including Disney World, which actually straddles neighbour Orange and Osceola counties.
“If these numbers are true for Orlando, I’m proud of them,” said Mr Fertitta, the chief executive of NYC & Co.
But he added: “Visit Orlando counts travellers to three counties and 36 different cities and towns in the greater Orlando area.
“That’s almost like us counting pilgrims to Woodstock in New York City’s total,” Mr Fertitta said.
The Orlando Sentinel newspaper challenged Mr Fertitta’s argument.
“Woodstock is 105 miles — or a two-hour drive — from New York City,” it said. “Walt Disney World — which straddles two counties — is 16 miles, or 22 minutes by car, from downtown Orlando.”