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New York Daily News

Borough Push For Tourism: You Can See The Entire World And Stay In Brooklyn


January 22, 2004
Copyright ©2004 Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved.

It may be the borough of churches, and the fourth-largest city - if it were a city - in America, but rarely has Brooklyn been called a tourism paradise.

Now, the borough's leaders - touting its art galleries, museums, ethnic restaurants, beaches and promenades, parks, shopping malls, historical sites and architecture - want to change that.

The Brooklyn Tourism Consortium, made up of more than 90 representatives from Brooklyn's cultural, recreational and business areas catering to tourism, gathered at the Brooklyn Marriott hotel yesterday to brainstorm about how to attract more visitors.

"It's the creative engine of New York City," said Steve Hindy, the consortium's chairman. He added that visitors should not come to Brooklyn for just one thing, because there are "many wonderful neighborhoods with wonderful things to see and do" in the borough.

Borough President Marty Markowitz added, "Tourism represents the greatest potential economic activity in the immediate future of Brooklyn."

He announced at the meeting that the Brooklyn Tourism and Visitors Center, providing up-to-the-minute tourism information, will open Feb. 12 in Borough Hall.

"Brooklynites need those tourism dollars," Markowitz said.

There are no separate figures for the economic impact of tourism for Brooklyn, but the total figure for New York City is $21 billion in 2002, according to NYC & Co., the city's official tourism marketing organization. Visitors' dollars have paid for 226,100 jobs, $4.1 billion in direct payroll, and $3 billion in taxes. Of the 35.3 million visitors to New York City in 2002, 30.2 million were domestic travelers.

"Before we get people from outside of New York City, we have to educate our own people - those born in New York City - on what Brooklyn is about," said Yelena Makhin, executive director of the Brighton Beach Business Improvement District.

Markowitz and other consortium officials said Brooklyn's diversity is one of its major selling points.

"Diversity is in Brooklyn," said Renee Giordano, executive director of the Sunset Park Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District. She noted that her neighborhood, Sunset Park, has a significant Hispanic and a growing Asian population.

Markowitz took that point even further.

"It takes less than 30 minutes to get from Poland to Italy, from Chinatown to the Caribbean, or from Russia to mid-1800s Eastern Europe, or from Puerto Rico to Mexico or to Pakistan," the borough president said. "You can see the entire world and stay in Brooklyn."

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