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Snug Harbor Pushes to Bring Chinese Tourists to Staten Island

By Nicholas Rizzi | July 23, 2015 3:32pm
 Snug Harbor recently hosted the Consul General of China to increase visits from Chinese tourists.
Snug Harbor Visit from Ambassador Zhang Qiyue
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LIVINGSTON — The Snug Harbor Cultural Center is trying to lure Chinese tourists after hosting a visit from the country's Consul General.

Ambassador Zhang Qiyue toured the Chinese Scholar's Gardens with Snug Harbor CEO Lynn Kelly, board member Ron Altman and NYC and Company vice president Marty Markowitz on Tuesday as the group tries to convince tourists to check out the spot.

After the tour, Qiyue said she was impressed with the gardens and planned to do more to try to get Chinese tourists — one of the city's fastest-growing markets for overseas visitors — to take the ferry ride over.

"Most people do not really know Staten Island and this garden or Snug Harbor," Qiyue said.

"We will try to promote it together, for example by putting this on our website and our WeChat... we can reach out to the Chinese community."

The garden opened in 1999 after a team of 40 Chinese artists and craftsmen spent a year building it in China, followed by six months in Staten Island putting it in place, according to Snug Harbor.

"There's no other place like it on the East Coast," Kelly said, adding that the only other traditional Chinese garden is in Portland, Oregon.

"This is the real deal."

The gardens feature pavilions, a bamboo path, koi ponds and waterfalls. The design is based off gardens built in the Ming Dynasty from 1368 until 1644, according to Snug Harbor.

Kelly said the spot is a popular location for events, as well as for commercial and wedding photographs.

While Qiyue said China will increase efforts to bring more people to Staten Island, the lack of public transportation options — especially from New Jersey — will make it a hard sell, Kelly said.

"We need to make sure that they have easy access to Staten Island," she said.

"If Staten Island is more accessible, then I think this garden and Snug Harbor will really attract a lot of opportunities," she said.