Op-Ed: State grants go to boost Queens tourism

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BY ASSEMBLYMEMBER MARGARET MARKEY

With 52 million visitors to New York City last year, Queens is already the city’s second most important borough for the tourist and travel industry. This year, thanks to economic development funding from New York State, the Queens Chamber of Commerce and the Queens Tourism Council we are setting out to unlock even more of the tremendous potential of this economic sector for our borough.

There are currently more than 43,000 tourism-related jobs in Queens, nearly 100 hotels and a host of museums, cultural organizations, restaurants and such major venues as Citi Field, the U.S. Tennis Association and Resorts World Casino.

To help spread the word about this array of attractions and services in what must be the most diverse county in America, I am proud to have provided a grant of $70,000 to the Queens Tourism Council for the coming year.

This funding from the NY State Department of Economic Development’s “I Love NY” program will enable the Council to conduct an aggressive multi-media marketing campaign to promote businesses and cultural attractions to residents of the Tri-State Area and to establish a presence at international travel and hospitality conferences.

Another major tourism program that will debut this summer is the “This is Queens” smartphone app, developed with $100,000 in tourism funding from the New York State Department of Economic Development.

Launching in time to capitalize on the many thousands of new visitors who will come to Queens for the U.S. Open and the Major League All-Star Game, the free service will tell visitors where they can stay and eat and will also suggest additional activities for them at locations throughout the borough. It will also provide photos and information on the borough’s cultural and entertainment attractions and provide directions by train, bus or walking.

Unlocking the enormous economic potential of the tourism industry in Queens has long been an important goal for me.

When I was a member of the senior staff of Borough President Claire Shulman in 1990s, I created the first tourism program for Queens by establishing the Queens Tourism Council.  From that beginning with an emerging array of museums and cultural destinations and only a handful of hotels, the Council now has 50 entities and continues to grow.

As we see the continuing enhancement of Queens cultural facilities and historic sites and the expansion of tourism and entertainment opportunities in locales as diverse as Long Island City and Flushing, we can expect the travel industry to continue to produce new jobs and economic vitality for our borough and I am delighted that the State of New York State is helping.

Assemblymember Margaret Markey, who represents the 30th District of Queens, is Chair of the Assembly Committee on Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development.

 

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