NYC to Observe Founding of Five Boroughs

By Jorge Sidron

NEW YORK -- The Big Apple will celebrate a centenary in 1998 with a series of cultural exhibitions, concerts, walking tours and other events commemorating the consolidation of more than three-dozen separate municipalities into five boroughs.

City tourism officials said they want as many visitors as possible to come to the party. To that end, the New York Convention and Visitors Bureau said it will roll out a winter tourism marketing campaign to raise visitors' awareness of the events and to get them to participate.

The bureau will launch a "Do N.Y. Right Centennial Fun Pass" promotion from Jan. 1 to March 31, a period when hotel occupancy levels drop following the busy fall season. Like earlier Fun Pass promotions, next winter's campaign will feature a special-edition Transit Authority Metro Card good for discounts at city hotels, restaurants, shops and cultural institutions.

Fun Passes will be available free of charge at participating hotels and by calling the bureau at (800) NYC-VISIT. The Fun Pass also will be offered to rail commuters originating from a 400-mile radius of the city. The bureau said an airline partner, possibly the Delta Shuttle, is likely to participate.

The bureau said it will produce 250,000 of the Fun Passes, which will be available in December. A pocket-size information kit, with participants' names and their offers, a calendar of events and a city map, will accompany the card.

As with earlier versions, Fun Pass Metro Card users will be able to use the cards on the subway and city buses by encoding them for any amount from $5 to $80. Encoded or not for transportation, however, the winter Fun Pass will offer the steepest discounts ever.

In addition, whereas participants in earlier Fun Pass promotions could set their own offers, next winter each participating industry, such as Off-Broadway shows and restaurants, will offer a standardized discount.

Meanwhile, cultural institutions, which are planning yearlong exhibitions and activities with a centennial theme, will provide a free gift for every $25 spent in their gift shops.

The Fun Pass will concentrate the bulk of its discounts on hotels, with approximately 30 of the bureau's 129 hotel partners offering discounts on their rack rates.

The bureau will advertise the Fun Pass promotion in major metropolitan dailies, including the New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Boston Globe and the Washington Times.

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