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February 06, 2003
PR- 037-03


First Ever Summit Seeks to Revive $25 Billion International Travel & Tourism Industry

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today hosted a breakfast at Gracie Mansion to welcome  participants of the first Sister City Summit entitled, “Rebuilding International Tourism”.  Mayor Bloomberg also announced the appointment of the Honorable Nancy E. Soderberg as President of The Sister City Program of New York and Veronica Kelly as the Recording Secretary.  Among those attending the breakfast were Mayor Gabor Demszky of Budapest, Mayor Amos Masondo of Johannesburg, Mayor Jose Maria Alvarez del Manzano of Madrid, Mayor Roberto Salcedo of Santo Domingo as well as tour operators, tourism officials and mayoral delegations from New York’s other Sister Cities: Cairo, Jerusalem, London, Rome and Toyko.  Commission for the United Nations, Consular Corps and Protocol Commissioner Marjorie B. Tiven and NYC & Company President & CEO Cristyne L. Nicholas will also host the representatives during the two-day summit.

 “This summit affirms our commitment to working together as partners in an effort to rebuild global tourism,” said Mayor Bloomberg.  “As the world’s second home, New York remains the safest large city in the United States.  With your cooperation and friendship we will continue to send that message to the globe and we are pleased welcome your delegates, our Sister Cities, to New York with open arms.”

Prior to September 11th, 2001, New York City tourism created $25 billion in economic activity, supported nearly 300,000 jobs and generated $3 billion in City, State and Federal taxes.  International visitors accounted for only 18% of all City visitors each year, yet accounted for 42% of tourism spending. The preliminary 2001 nationwide international visitor numbers reflect an overall 9.4% decline from 50.9 million international visitors to the U.S. in 2000 to 45.5 million in 2001.  As the nation’s number-one international visitor destination, New York City stands to have lost a significant number of international visitors and their corresponding spending in 2001.

“Although tourism remains a vital component of New York’s economy, the industry in general and especially the lucrative international segment continues to struggle,” said NYC & Company President & CEO Cristyne L. Nicholas.  “The return of international visitors is crucial to the complete recovery of New York’s tourism industry and we are excited about this opportunity to invite residents of our nine Sister Cities to come and enjoy everything the City has to offer at this important time.

Itinerary for delegates is as follows:

 February 6th - Mayor Bloomberg welcomes guests at Gracie Mansion and opens the Summit.

Session on rebuilding tourism facilitated by Lalia Rach, Ed.D., Associate Dean, NYU Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Travel Administration.

Tour of Harlem including a hosted visit at El Museo del Barrio and The Studio Museum in Harlem.

Johannesburg Delegation and Mayor Bloomberg execute the formal Sister City Agreement.

Mayoral Courtesy Visit at City Hall.

Round table discussion on tourism with NYC & Co. at The Hilton.

Dinner at the American Museum of Natural History.

 February 7th - Tour of Midtown and Lower Manhattan.

Meeting with John Whitehead, Chairman, The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.

Tour of World Trade Center Site

United Nations Tour of United Nations.

The Honorable Ambassador Nancy E. Soderberg served in the White House as Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs as well as Alternate Representative to the United Nations with the rank of Ambassador.  Prior to joining the Clinton Administration, she served as Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to Senator Edward M. Kennedy.  She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a member of the Board of Concern Worldwide, and serves on the advisory board of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy and the Tanenbaum Center.  Ambassador Soderberg is also an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs

Veronica Kelly retired from a 20-year career as medical device sales representative.  Prior to receiving her Nursing Degree from Nassau Community College, where she graduated Cum Laude, Ms. Kelly became the first female with dependants to join the United States Coast Guard Reserve as Petty Officer 1st Class.  Ms. Kelly is an ardent supporter of public service causes, including the Goods for Guns Foundation, where she served on the board, the Achilles Track Club to help disabled runners compete in the New York City Marathon, and training foreign speakers to learn English through Literacy America.  Ms. Kelly is married to New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly and they have two sons.

The mission of the Sister City Program of the City of New York, Inc., a not-for-profit 501 (c)(3) organization, is to support the Mayoral initiative that seeks creative solutions to municipal challenges through business, security, and cultural exchanges between New York City and its nine international Sister Cities.  For more information about New York City’s Sister City program visit:

NYC & Company, the City’s official tourism marketing organization, is a private, membership-based non-profit dedicated to building New York City’s economy and positive image through tourism and convention development, major events and the marketing of the city on a worldwide basis.  For more information about New York City tourism please visit:

Contact: Edward Skyler / Lark-Marie Antón 
(212) 788-2958