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New bill provides funding for tourism in the five boroughs

By Madina Toure

State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) unveiled a bill that would provide the five boroughs with a portion of the city hotel occupancy tax they collect to promote local tourism.

The bill would offer boroughs 4 percent of the city hotel occupancy tax revenue collected yearly within that borough, up to a maximum of $300,000 per year, Peralta said.

The tax revenue would go to each borough’s tourism council or organization as determined by local law and approved by the city Economic Development Corporation for the promotion of sites, attractions and restaurants.

“This bill really creates a synergy between the promotions that happened for New York City in the outer boroughs,” Peralta said. “Manhattan is the borough that’s really promoted.”

State Assemblyman Luis Sepúlveda (D-Bronx) is carrying the measure in the state Assembly.

Peralta met with NYC & Company, the city’s official marketing, tourism and partnership organization, a year ago.

The organization supports the bill, as it would allow each borough to promote itself more, he added.

“They’re on board with this. They love the idea,” he said. “They love the fact that this will help the borough to promote itself.”

The money would allow each borough to promote its tourist attractions, including sites such as Coney Island, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Alphabet City and the Bronx Zoo.

The new revenue could also be used to promote for-profit ventures like bars, bookstores, coffee shops and restaurants.

In 2014, 56.4 million visitors came to the city, generating $61.3 billion in overall economic impact. Tourists bought more than 32 million hotel-room nights.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said the borough has a variety of attractions, reflecting the diversity of the borough’s population.

“This bill offered by Sen. Peralta and Assemblyman Sepúlveda would better enable Queens to promote these fabulous attractions to a wider audience and would generate economic growth that would strongly benefit our borough’s hardworking families,” Katz said in a statement.

The bill is currently in the Investigations and Government Operations Committee in the state Senate and the Ways and Means Committee in the state Assembly awaiting a vote out of committee.

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtoure@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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