STATE SENATOR JOSE PERALTA
While New York struggles to recover from the recession of 2008, it is clear that at least one of its major industries is thriving like never before–New York City tourism.
In 2012, the city welcomed a record-breaking 52 million visitors, despite the devastation wrought by Sandy. According to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, these tourists, who paid for a total of 29 million hotel room nights, poured more than $55 billion into the city’s economy.
What’s more, the city’s hotel occupancy stands at 87 percent, the highest in the nation. Better yet, there is good reason to believe that tourism remains a growing industry, with much of its potential still untapped, particularly outside of Manhattan. In the past six years, 72 new hotels have been built in boroughs other than Manhattan and a record-high percentage of non-Manhattan hotels are under development for the next four years.
Bloomberg and the city’s official marketing, tourism and partnership organization, NYC & Company, deserve enormous credit for nurturing the tourism boom. They are doing excellent work in promoting tourism beyond Manhattan with initiatives like “Neighborhood X Neighborhood,” which is designed to support local businesses and encourage tourism in communities outside traditional tourist locations throughout the five boroughs.
Indeed, NYC & Company recently announced that Corona, Forest Hills and Jackson Heights are the next destinations to be featured in “Neighborhood x Neighborhood.”
NYC & Company is to be commended for this increased emphasis on non-traditional attractions to go along with its promotion of big-name sites and destinations.
In fact, it only makes sense to turn at least some portion of the responsibility for promoting places to see and things to do outside of Manhattan over to the people that know their home boroughs better than anyone else.
That’s why I’ve introduced legislation to give each borough a portion of its own Hotel Occupancy Tax Revenue, based on the tax revenue each generates, up to a maximum of $300,000. Manhattan would still get the bulk of the promotional dollars, but it would increase revenue for Queens.
Among other initiatives, the funding would support continuous updates and strategic distribution of the “This is Queens” app, developed by the Queens Chamber of Commerce to provide visitors—and locals too, for that matter—with information about where to go in Queens, what to do and how to get there. The free app was unveiled recently to rave reviews.
With the resources for the job in hand, we would widely and unabashedly promote the fact that not only is Queens home to a host of great restaurants featuring as diverse an array of international cuisines as there is to be found anywhere, but that you can enjoy unique and memorable meals here at much lower prices than in Manhattan.
We would also tout that Queens is home to some of the city’s most popular destinations, including Citi Field, the National Tennis Center and Resorts World Casino, a world-class gaming hall overlooking world-class thoroughbred racing at Aqueduct.
We would let bird watchers and hikers know about the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and arts lovers about our galleries and museums. In case they weren’t already aware, we would let fans of top-flight college sports know all that’s available at St. John’s University.
Highlighting bargains, unearthing gems and underscoring the city’s vibrancy and vitality outside of Manhattan would help foster the growth and expansion of New York City’s tourism industry.
As for Queens, everybody else would come to learn what we already know: As the most diverse county in the country, perhaps the most diverse area in the world, Queens represents what New York City is really all about.
Peralta is Senate Minority Whip representing the 13th Senate District
- Op-Ed: State grants go to boost Queens tourism
- ‘This is Queens’ app launches
- Op-Ed: More airport terminal gates = More Queens jobs