By Bill Parry
The borough’s tourism industry received a boost when travel guide publisher Lonely Planet named Queens the No. 1 tourist destination in the United States in 2015 and legislation is making its way through Albany to provide funding that would further promote the brand.
The state Senate passed a bill authored by Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) last week which would reallocate four percent of the Hotel Occupancy Tax revenue, up to an annual maximum of $300,000, to each borough to further tourism development.
In 2017, New York City received a record-breaking 61.8 million visitors, nearly a two percent increase from the 60.5 million tourists who visited the city the year before, according to NYC & Company.
“Simply put, my bill will foster the growth of New York City’s tourism industry, which is a key economic engine for our city,” Peralta said. “Tourism is a great source of job creation, and if the bill becomes law, each borough will be able to further promote their particular gems and attractions, from Flushing Meadows Corona Park here in the district to the Bronx Zoo. A visit to New York City in incomplete if visitors skipped the boroughs.”
The funding will allow each borough to support its own tourism attractions. The tax revenue, which can be used to promote local nonprofit venues, will go to each borough’s tourism council.
“I’m not sure of the politics of this bill, but I am absolutely positive that I could do some great things with the extra funding,” Queens Tourism Council Director Rob MacKay said. “First of all, I would attend some travel industry conferences to educate travel agents on Queens. We are seeing more and more tourists from Brazil, Canada, China and France these days. I’d love to go to these countries and preach Queens. It would be great for business.”
Peralta hopes the Assembly follows suit and approves his measure.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr