Awareness of Long Island among international tourists appears to be growing with increases in the number of people visiting an informational website and opening promotional emails, according to a new report.
People from Australia and Canada visited pages touting the Island on the website of NYC & Co. Inc. more than 27,550 times in the six months ended March 31. The number was almost equally divided between the two countries, according to Discover Long Island, the region’s main tourism promotion agency.
In a 21-page report to the state, Discover Long Island details the early results of its one-year partnership with NYC & Co., the city’s primary tourism bureau, to make foreign visitors aware of Island attractions.
The partnership includes a Long Island section on the NYC & Co. website, nycgo.com/discoverlongisland, mentions on Facebook and other social media, joint appearances at trade shows and email marketing. The Island is being promoted with the slogan, Discover New York City’s Beachfront Backyard.
“It takes a while to establish your brand in international travel but the partnership with NYC & Co. is working,” said Kristen Jarnagin, CEO of Discover Long Island, formerly known as the Long Island Convention & Visitors Bureau and Sports Commission. “We’re also working with I Love New York and reaching out to tour operators.”
Last week, Empire State Development, the state’s primary business-aid agency, awarded a $300,000 grant to Discover Long Island to pay for work performed last year as part of the NYC & Co. project. Discover Long Island contributed $100,000.
In addition, Discover Long Island is seeking another $300,000 from ESD to collaborate with NYC & Co. to bring gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender tourists to Nassau and Suffolk counties around next year’s World Pride event in June, among other activities, Jarnagin said.
Earlier, ESD provided $150,000 toward a $200,000 project to build the Long Island pages on nycgo.com and other activities tied to the launch of the Discover Long Island-NYC & Co. alliance.
ESD CEO Howard Zemsky told the agency’s board of directors that tourism is “the fourth largest employment sector in the state” and generates more than $100 billion in revenue each year.
“We are doubling down on our investments in this sector,” he said in Manhattan last week.
Last fall, NYC & Co. sent nearly 13,000 emails about Long Island attractions to prospective Canadian and Australian tourists, according to the report. Twenty-three percent of Canadians and 20 percent of Australians actually opened the email.
Separately, Discover Long Island hired public relations firms in Britain and Germany to promote the Island through news releases, media interviews and articles in travel publications and websites. Together, the content reached an estimated audience of about 8 million, the report states.
Discover Long Island also created a staff position for international sales and promotions.
“For many international travelers, we are essentially a new destination,” Jarnagin said. “We need to tell people about all that Long Island has to offer. Being next to New York City, the top destination in the world, is a big advantage.”