Does luring a Brooklynite to spend an afternoon on Staten Island count as tourism?
Maybe not. But New York City’s tourism promotion agency is giving it a try in a campaign it plans to announce on Wednesday to get New Yorkers to explore more parts of their hometown. Called “See Your City,” the ads from NYC & Company spotlight sections of all five boroughs that might appeal to adventurous local residents.
Stylized posters will appear on bus shelters, banners will hang from light poles and a video will run in taxis urging residents to “go somewhere new for a change.” The message is that 54.3 million visitors cannot be wrong, said Fred Dixon, the chief executive of NYC & Company.
Mr. Dixon said that going after New Yorkers was not a signal that the influx of tourists to the city had run its course. To the contrary, he said, his agency expected the number of annual visitors to continue rising steadily, to 55.8 million this year and 57 million next year.
Still, Mr. Dixon, who took the top job at NYC & Company earlier this year, said “we’ve really adopted a broader definition of tourism.” The city is competing for the disposable income of its own residents, as well as the travel budgets of people from other places, he said.
Mr. Dixon said that drawing local residents to particular neighborhoods would give them a “vibrancy” that could, in turn, make tourists want to visit them too. Among the neighborhoods the campaign will highlight are Harlem, the Long Island City riverfront in Queens, the Dumbo section of Brooklyn, Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx and the St. George section of Staten Island.
Statistics compiled by NYC & Company illustrate how much harder it is to sell some boroughs as destinations. Only about one of every eight visitors went to the Bronx or Staten Island last year, while eight out of every 10 spent some time in Manhattan, according to those estimates. But the agency said the number of visits to the Bronx and Staten Island were rising the fastest.
Getting New Yorkers to venture far from their normal subway routes may be an uphill push, though. When the staff of Time Out New York compiled a list this spring of “70 things you’ll never hear a New Yorker say,” No. 31 was “Let’s go to Staten Island,” accompanied by a photo of a Staten Island Ferry.
That ferry may not carry many people who live in other parts of the city, but it is very popular with tourists, who take advantage of its free fare to get a close-up look at the Statue of Liberty. At the request of the Staten Island borough president, James Oddo, the city’s Independent Budget Office produced a study last month of the feasibility of charging out-of-towners to ride the ferry.
The budget office assumed that the number of annual riders would increase by one million after the completion of some planned developments on the island’s north shore, including a giant Ferris wheel. Of the 22 million one-way rides annually, the budget office estimated that 16.6 million were taken by Staten Island residents. Of the balance, 3.6 million were taken by passengers from out of town and just 1.8 million were from other boroughs, most of whom were going to Staten Island to work.
Mr. Dixon said he thought New Yorkers would be inspired by the promotion of neighborhoods they had not investigated. “We’re encouraging them in a playful way to explore their own city,” he said.