By Lisa Autz
Queens’ many diverse attractions can now be easily accessed on its own, free “This is Queens” mobile application. The Queens Chamber of Commerce and NYC Regional Economic Development Council presented the app at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Wednesday.
The free app features attractions, restaurants, hotels, events and exclusive deals to Queens businesses — just in time for the hundreds of thousands of visitors who are expected to visit Queens for the MLB All-Star Game at Citi field and US Open Tennis this summer.
“Of the five boroughs Queens is obviously the largest, but now it fits in your pocket,” said Kenneth Adams, head of Empire State Development Corp.
Empire State Development awards grants to innovative projects throughout the state through its Regional Economic Development Councils, and dished out $100,000 to the Chamber to fund the Queens app so the 50 million tourists who come through New York City each year can explore Queens.
Digital Natives Group, a Long Island City-based digital marketing agency, designed the program. It gathered information about restaurants within Queens using an online business listings website called singleplatform.com.
The app, which would usually take about five to six months to create, was developed in about 2 1/2 months, according to Digital Native’s CMO Jonathan Jacobs, in order to be ready for several big-tickets events in Flushing Meadows Corona Park this summer.
“We are taking a crowd sourcing angle,” said Eric Abrams, digital media and membership associate for chamber, who encouraged businesses to reach out to his office if they want to participate.
The application is a free source of advertisement for businesses and will eventually be translated into languages such as Spanish, Chinese and Korean, said Jack Friedman, executive director of the chamber.
Queens Tourism Council kiosks are set to inform US Open visitors of the new app and all of its capabilities. Cards will also be given out at the tennis stadium and Mets games.
The “I Love NY” tourism company agreed to repost information about the app on its Facebook page, which currently has 1.2 million likes.
“There is this terrific economic opportunity if we can get information to all those tennis fans, so when they come to the US Open they go beyond these gates and spend their money at local restaurants, local businesses — even car services … hotels and other destinations,” said Adams.
In 2012, Queens raked in an estimated $10 billion in tourism, according to Rob MacKay of the Queens Economic Development Corporation.
“We are hoping this has a snowball effect. This is just the beginning, but we hope it’s the start of something huge,” he said.