Given Wall Street’s recent turmoil, NYC and Company, the official marketing organization for New York, is promoting travel and tourism as an alternative source of revenue for the city, one that might help buoy some of the city's businesses and its economy.
"Mayor [Michael Bloomberg] two-and-a-half years ago saw that we needed to diversify the city's economy and that it couldn't be all Wall Street," said Kimberly Spell, senior vice president at NYC and Company. "There is going to be a much greater emphasis on the tourism industry in New York City and how it's impacting the economy."
George Fertitta, CEO of NYC and Company, said: "Let's use the figure for 2008. We predict that there will be over 47 million visitors, bringing in over $30 billion. On the average, each household in New York City will save over $1,100 because of the nontax they will be paying because of the tax base that travel and tourism makes up. There's no question what an immense impact it has on the residents of New York."
Additionally, said Fertitta, New York's travel and tourism supports more than 370,000 local jobs.
On Oct. 13, with the opening of an office in Mumbai, India, NYC and Company completes an aggressive two-year process of creating 11 new international offices aimed at encouraging travel to New York.
The 11 new offices bring the total to 18; seven offices were established between eight and 10 years ago. The offices range in size from a two-person outpost in Moscow charged with courting Russia's big spenders to as many as 10 people working in London on seasonal campaigns.
In addition to working with inbound tour operators, the offices work with local media to get press coverage for New York and coordinate with the New York headquarters on advertising campaigns.
NYC and Company's universal advertising campaign, "This is New York City," has been shown in about eight of the international markets where it has a presence. Now, the ad, a 30- or 60-second TV spot set to the jazz standard "Take the 'A' Train," will have a run in India.
"The mayor knew that even though the number of international visitors represented only approximately 20% or so of the total visitation, it does represent about 50% of the [tourism] revenue to the city," said Fertitta.
"Last year, over $14 billion came from the international traveler, of our $28 billion."
Fertitta said the international markets New York was targeting were chosen based on a combination of factors, including their existing share of the inbound market as well as their potential. But NYC and Company didn't only invest in growing inbound markets.
"Japan used to be one of our biggest markets, but it had been on the decline," said Fertitta. "We opened up in Japan last summer, and we've actually held back the decline, so we're probably at break-even or a slightly bigger gain. And that's the first time that's happened in the Japanese market in the last six or seven years."
Fertitta added, "When you look at the amount of money that we spend in a market, we get at least 10 times return on that investment."
For example, in 2006, 63,000 Russian tourists visited New York. In 2007, the year NYC and Company opened an office in Moscow, 81,000 Russians visited New York, a 29% increase.
New York's total international market in 2007 was estimated at 8.76 million visitors, a 20% increase over 2006. "I think most people think it's wonderful," Fertitta said. "Certainly all the retailers do."