City branches out to bring in more tourists to the Big Apple

Rendering of Staten Island ferris wheel plan for

Rendering of Staten Island ferris wheel plan for Staten Island. (Mayor's Office) (Credit: Rendering of Staten Island ferris wheel plan for Staten Island. (Mayor's Office) )

New York City has a message to tourists: There's a lot more to see here than you realize.

The city raked in 52 million visitors last year, a record number that brought $55.3 billion into the city's coffers.

The mayor wants to raise the number of visitors to 55 million annually and is working hard to reach that goal.

While Times Square and Central Park are the top spots for visitors, city officials have been on a quest to lure them to different parts of Gotham, including 1 World Trade Center and the "new" West Side.

At the same time, the city is banking on spotlighting new attractions and destinations outside of Manhattan.


Staten Island Ferris wheel

Construction is under way on the world’s largest Ferris wheel in the St. George neighborhood. The 625-feet structure aims to accomodate 30,000 rides a day when it opens in 2016.

The mayor has touted the wheel for years and said it would help bring a major boost to Staten Island, especially as it continues to recover from Superstorm Sandy.

Cruise industry

During his weekly radio address Sunday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg touted the newest cruise ship to dock in the city, the Norwegian Cruise Line. Besides being the latest addition to the city’s cruise industry, the Breakaway is NYC’s biggest ship.

“Since 2009, the number of cruise ship passengers embarking here has grown by 32%. They totaled more than 587,000 passengers during 2012 alone,” the mayor said.

Joining the fleet of ships that leave New York via the West Side or Red Hook, the Breakaway — which is set to depart from Pier 88 on a voyage Monday — will have 4,000 passengers. It is set to make weekly trips out to sea.

Both cruise terminals received major makeovers recently and have become quite attractive to ship companies that are looking for new port cities.

The revamped West Side

The city has several projects in the works that are already wowing Gotham tourists, including the High Line on the West Side. Since the first two sections of the elevated park opened four years ago, more than 10 million visitors have walked the former railroad trail, according to Bloomberg.

When its third section is completed in 2014, there will be even more activity in the neighborhood, the mayor said during a news conference last year. The High Line aims to compliment the Hudson Yards redevelopment.

Neighborhood x Neighborhood

NYC & Company, the city’s tourism wing, wants to spread the visitor love, and the tourism revenue, throughout the city.

In the winter, it began its Neighborhood x Neighborhood promotional program, which showcases destinations in the outer boroughs that are less explored by tourists.

Kimberly Spell, the communications director for NYC & Company, said places like Bushwick, the South Bronx and Queens never really get that much attention despite all the attractions in those areas.

“We want repeat visitors to go to places that they haven't been before. If we don't show them the ever-changing New York, they will head to other destinations,” she said in an earlier interview with amNewYork.

So far, Neighborhood x Neighborhood has featured places like the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Fort Greene Park, the Pregones Theater in the Bronx and various shops in Battery Park City. NYC & Company has hinted that the campaign will set its sights on Jackson Heights, Forest Hills and Snug Harbor, Staten Island in the future.

The Kingsbridge National Ice Center

Last month, the city announced that the landmarked Kingsbridge Armory will transform into the world’s largest ice rink.

When the Kingsbridge National Ice Center opens sometime in 2019, the multistory facility will feature nine rinks and training facilities year-round.

One of the rinks will have seating for 5,000 people and could be home to future ice sporting events, according to the mayor and developers.

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