Popular American TV show Sex and the City, which ran for several seasons, is, by far, the best advertisement ever that New York City ever got, says Fred Dixon, Executive Vice President, Market Development, NYC & Company, who was in India recently as part of a delegation to promote New York City. The exploits of Carrie and her three friends familiarised people to almost every nook and cranny of NYC, he adds.
NYC & Co is the city’s official marketing, tourism and partnership organisation, and the high-profile delegation to India was meant to highlight the new attractions in NYC’s five boroughs — Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island. Four NYC member companies – Broadway Collection, Empire State Building, Madame Tussauds and New York Water Taxi – also came looking, to target the India opportunity. Dixon explains the hows and whys of this.
(Excerpts from an interview)
Q: Why this new-found fascination for India?
A: New York City got as many as 215,000 visitors from India in 2012, reflecting a growth of 5% over the previous year. And 2013 is shaping up to be another excellent year. Isn’t it natural then?
Q: But Indians are generally known to be more fond of the West Coast, which offers attractions such as Hollywood and Disneyland.
A: You may be surprised to know that NYC has a 29% percent market share of Indians’ travel to the US – the highest in the nation – way above Los Angeles, San Francisco, or even the gambling haven of Las Vegas.
Q: How is the overall tourism scene for NYC? How many visitors does it get from all over the world?
A: In 2012, NYC welcomed a record 52 million visitors. Generating a direct spending of $36.9 billion, tourism is now the city’s fifth largest industry. In fact, even in terms of worldwide numbers, NYC gets highest number of visitors compared to any other city in the US. No wonder then that as many as 360,000 people in the city are engaged in the hospitality and leisure sector. Our goal, however, is to get 55 million annual visitors by 2015.
Q: But aren’t most of these visitors mere business travellers? And that accounts for NYC getting more people than the touristy part of the US?
A: That’s partly true, but we are looking to change that. In fact, one of our key goals this year is to grow the family segment. In that direction, we have rolled out the Where’s Waldo? initiative – with Waldo acting as the city’s ambassador and offering tips on what families can see and do in the five boroughs. By the way, in 2012, we got almost 15 million family visitors.
Q: If NYC is doing so good as a tourist destination, is there a need to further promote it?
A: There are two aspects to it. Firstly, we want to take it beyond the business travellers and expand its scope and potential as a go-to destination for families with kids, young holidayers and even couples. Also, we have come up with a slew of other attractions and we want to create awareness about those.
Q: Which is the most important market for you?
A: China is on top at the moment. It’s our largest growing market, followed by India. So China and India are at the centre of all our activities right now.
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