New Bill Aims to Spread Tourism Dollars to Outer Boroughs
QUEENS — A new bill proposed by a Queens lawmaker would give the outer boroughs a bigger chunk of the state's hotel tax, allowing local businesses to reap the benefits of large events like the upcoming US Open, he said.
State Sen. Jose Peralta’s bill, unveiled Tuesday, would provide each borough with 4 percent of the state hotel occupancy tax revenue each year — up to $300,000 apiece — to promote local tourism.
Tourism in the city is currently promoted by NYC & Company, and money is funneled to the boroughs through the NYC & Company Foundation, according to the Queens Economic Development Corporation.
The foundation allocates about $60,000 annually to each borough president's office to promote nonprofit sites like museums and other cultural attractions, the Queens Economic Development Corporation said. But NYC & Company tends to focus its time and energy on Manhattan, Peralta said.
In addition to giving more money to the outer boroughs, Peralta's plan would give borough-specific tourism groups — like the Queens Economic Development Corporation — more control over the funds and more responsibility in promoting local events. His proposal would also allow businesses like bars and restaurants, in addition to nonprofits, to benefit from the funds.
“While NYC & Company deserves great credit for nurturing the tourism boom the city is enjoying, it only makes sense to turn at least some of the responsibility for promoting places to see and things to do outside of Manhattan over to the people who know their home boroughs better than anyone else,” Peralta said.
NYC & Company, however, said they give all the boroughs an equal amount of attention when promoting the city.
“For the past seven years NYC & Company has consistently promoted all the things to do and see across the five boroughs. It is by design and not accident that 30 percent of hotels that have been built in the City since 2007 have been in boroughs outside of Manhattan," they said.
Queens Borough President Helen Marshall said the legislation is important because while events like the US Open bring major tax dollars to the city, businesses surrounding the tennis center have said they don't always benefit from the extra tourists.
“The US Open, a world-class sporting event, is a perfect example of how Queens is shortchanged by the revenue this tournament generates,” Marshall said.
Queens has worked to boost tourism to the borough, unveiling a guide app earlier this summer to keep visitors on the east side of the East River.
Peralta said that while an emphasis on Manhattan is understandable, his home borough has a lot to offer.
“As the most diverse county in the country, perhaps the most diverse area in the world, Queens represents what New York City is really all about,” he said.