FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 8, 2008
MAYOR BLOOMBERG, BOROUGH PRESIDENT MOLINARO AND GRAY LINE ANNOUNCE NEW STATEN ISLAND DISCOVERY TOUR
New Tour Kicks off Go Local Initiative to Promote Attractions in All Five Boroughs to New Yorkers as well as Visitors
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Staten Island Borough President James P. Molinaro, Gray Line New York Sightseeing President Tom Lewis and NYC & Company CEO George Fertitta announced today a new daily tour of Staten Island that will begin July 14. The launch of Gray Line’s 55-minute “Staten Island Discovery Tour” kicks off New York City’s Go Local initiative, designed to promote attractions in all five boroughs to New Yorkers as well as visitors. The new Go Local campaign, led by NYC & Company, New York City’s official tourism, marketing and partnership organization, will tout local attractions and summer programs, including a Summer in the City savings program and Summer Restaurant Week 2008. Department of Transportation (DOT ) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and Council Member Vincent M. Ignizio joined Mayor Bloomberg for the announcement, which took place outside Staten Island’s St. George Ferry Terminal.
“The Staten Island Ferry is one of New York City’s great attractions, but each year hundreds of thousands of people who enjoy it never spend any time on the Island outside the terminal, missing out on Staten Island’s diverse attractions, beautiful environment and unique history,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “The new ‘Staten Island Discovery Tour’ will offer an easy way to experience Staten Island, and it serves as the perfect kick-off to our new Go Local campaign. Although overseas visitors continue to come to New York City in record numbers, the high cost of gas and rising airline prices are causing many people to look for options closer to home, and no place offers more attractions hidden in plain sight than the City itself. From the Bronx to Staten Island, if you’re looking for a nearby getaway, this summer can be a great time to Go Local.”
“The establishment of a Gray Line bus tour in our borough is a tremendous milestone in Staten Island’s tourism efforts,” said Borough President Molinaro. “I would like to thank Mayor Bloomberg for his leadership and guidance as we reach out to the tourists who visit New York City, and I would also like to applaud NYC & Company for all of their efforts to promote not only Manhattan, but every borough of New York City. Staten Island welcomes Gray Line with open arms and we thank them for giving us the opportunity to showcase our Borough as a tourist destination.”
The one-hour “Discover Staten Island Tour” will depart just steps from the St. George Ferry Terminal and will make stops at the Staten Island September 11 Memorial, the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden, the Forest Avenue Shopping Area, the Staten Island Zoological Society, Fort Wadsworth, the Alice Austen House Museum and Park, and the St. George Ferry Terminal, while offering stunning views of New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty, the Verrazano Bridge, the Brooklyn Waterfront and the Manhattan skyline. The tour, which joins Gray Line’s range of popular New York City hop-on, hop-off, loop tour services will run hourly, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at a cost of $15. Live tour guides will accompany each tour, providing a colorful narration and offering customer assistance. Vehicles will be climate-controlled and – with 48 hours advanced notice – wheelchair accessible. The “Discover Staten Island Tour” will officially launch on Monday, July 14, but free limited service is available from July 8-13.
“Staten Island is chock-full of treasures that most New York City visitors never even knew existed,” said Gray Line New York Sightseeing President Tom Lewis. “Gray Line New York Sightseeing will be proud to showcase Staten Island’s cultural gems and stunning visual backdrops of New York Harbor to the world. Our ‘Discover Staten Island Tour’ can be boarded just steps from the Staten Island Ferry, which millions ride each year. The Staten Island Ferry has become a destination in itself for millions of New York visitors each year. But most visitors take the next Ferry back to Manhattan today, missing some of the greatest attractions New York City has to offer. Gray Line New York Sightseeing will change that by opening up Staten Island to world tourists and New Yorkers alike.”
As part of the new Go Local campaign, NYC & Company, New York City’s official tourism, marketing and partnership organization, will send out Street Teams to different parts of the City to promote local attractions both to New Yorkers and visitors, distributing maps, summer guides and other materials on fun things to do, interesting things to see and great places to dine in New York City. Information will also be made available online at nycvisit.com, by phone through 311 and in person at NYC & Company visitor information centers and kiosks.
The initiative involves the targeted promotion of local savings programs and unique attractions available this summer. Summer in the City offers more than 200 special discounts throughout the five boroughs from now until September. NYC Summer Restaurant Week 2008 takes place July 21-25 and July 28-August 1 and offers three-course meals for $24.07 and three-course dinners for $35.00. New York City will also play host to a number of must see activities this summer including The New York City Waterfalls, on display through Oct. 13 in the East River and the Major League Baseball All-Star Game on July 15, which also marks the last year to enjoy Yankee and Shea Stadiums. More information on all of NYC & Company’s promotions being offered to residents and visitors along with travel information for visiting the five boroughs can be found on the City’s destination website nycvisit.com.
“New York City is the iconic destination for millions around the world,” said NYC & Company CEO George Fertitta. “But we want the people who live and work here to explore and enjoy all their city has to offer. With so many options including the new Staten Island bus tour and our ‘Summer in the City’ savings program, there no better time than now for New Yorkers and residents of the tri-sate area to go local and get to know and love New York City even more.”
New York City’s tourism industry continues to thrive. Since 2000, New York City has seen a 34 percent increase in overseas arrivals while the U.S. as a whole has seen an 8 percent decline, and the U.S. Department of Commerce just released statistics for the first quarter of 2008 that show that New York remains the country’s top destination for foreign visitors. New York City forecasts an estimated 12.5 million visitors between June and August this year, up from 12 million visitors in 2007. Hotel occupancies continue to beat national records, with the month of June reaching an 89 percent occupancy rate with an average daily room rate of $325.
The 2005 renovation of the St. George Ferry Terminal included the installation of signs directing people to local attractions such as the Staten Island Museum, Richmond County Ballpark and the Snug Harbor Cultural Center, and DOT will soon add one directing people to the “Staten Island Discovery Tour.” The DOT-operated terminal has a temporary visitor kiosk staffed by the Borough President’s office now opened daily along the passenger concourse, and the Whitehall Ferry Terminal offers the system’s first-ever permanent visitor kiosk, staffed by the Council on the Arts and Humanities for Staten Island, which gives out information and directions to tourist sites.
“The ferry terminal St. George doesn’t have to be the last stop for visitors to Staten Island – in fact, we should look at it as the gateway to the borough,” said DOT Commissioner Sadik-Khan. “With new terminal signs to nearby attractions and by expanding the information we provide to visitors in the terminals, we are making the landing more inviting, and we hope this tour will help lead to a journey beyond the terminal.“
Stu Loeser / Andrew Brent (212) 788-2958
Kimberly Spell / Tiffany Townsend (NYC & Co.) (212) 484-1270
Paige Stuhlman (BP Molinaro) (718) 816-2049
Bill O’Reilly (Gray Line) (212) 554-4459