In an exclusive interview with Travel And Tour World, Fred Dixon, President & CEO of NYC & Company explains the role and contribution of NYC & Company in promoting New York as a global leisure and MICE city.
Travel And Tour World: Share with us about the role and contribution of NYC & Company.
Fred Dixon: NYC & Company is the official destination marketing organization and convention and visitors bureau for the City of New York, dedicated to maximizing travel and tourism opportunities throughout the five boroughs, building economic prosperity and spreading the positive image of New York City worldwide.
Travel And Tour World: Due to COVID-19, the tourism industry has seen a huge loss. What are the loss NYC & Company has incurred and how you are planning to reboot the MICE and leisure tourism in New York?
Fred Dixon: As with other destinations around the world, the pandemic has affected almost every factor of New York City’s tourism and hospitality industry, and we saw visitation drop by two thirds in 2020. Since the beginning of the crisis, NYC & Company has been focused on supporting tourism businesses across the five boroughs, with the ultimate goal of safely bringing the industry back, along with the significant number of jobs and economic impact it generates.
In June of this year, NYC & Company launched It’s Time for New York City, a new $30 million global tourism recovery campaign — the City’s largest tourism promotion to date. This is a multi-phased effort consisting of television, digital, outdoor media and partnerships, which we have rolled out in stages, focusing first on regional and domestic markets, before now beginning to expand internationally after the resumption of foreign travel to the United States on November 8.
Travel And Tour World: What are the marketing strategies NYC & Company has taken to boost the meetings and event scenario?
Fred Dixon: As part of this larger recovery campaign, we recently launched It’s Time to Make it NYC, our largest marketing and sales effort for the meetings and conventions industry, to tell meeting planners globally that New York City is open for business and ready to safely welcome face-to-face meetings and events. This came on the heels of the $1.5 billion expansion of the Javits Convention Centre, plus new developments and enhancements across infrastructure, hotels, attractions, venues and more. This summer, New York City introduced the Key to NYC program, requiring proof of vaccination for most indoor venues, making the City one of the safest places to visit and do business from a public health perspective.
Travel And Tour World: For 2022 tourism season, how you are planning to attract the global travellers?
Fred Dixon: NYC & Company has already resumed our robust scope of work with international representative travel trade and public relations agencies in 13 global markets serving 19 regions, and we plan to be fully scaled up in 2022. At the same time, It’s Time for New York City is rolling out in key visitor markets around the world. We also continue to engage the travel trade, meeting planners and media, to ensure NYC is top of mind for travellers and delegates globally.
Travel And Tour World: What are the countries, you are targeting for international travellers?
Fred Dixon: It’s Time for New York City is currently running in the United Kingdom and will soon launch in Canada, Brazil, Mexico, core Western European markets and South Korea. We are also continuing with virtual and in-person sales missions and trade shows to top inbound markets.
Travel And Tour World: What is the planning you have taken to attract more UK travellers to your city?
Fred Dixon: As our number one source of international visitors to NYC, the UK is of critical importance to our recovery. It’s Time for New York City advertisements are currently running in the market in partnership with our travel partner British Airways. On November 8, when the US borders reopened for international travel, we also worked together with BA on activations for their inaugural flight, including a press familiarization trip for 15 UK travel editors — with the highlight being a celebratory event at the Empire State Building.
Travel And Tour World: Did you receive any government aid from US government to reenergize tourism business? If so, can you please explain?
Fred Dixon: As a 501(c) 6 organization, NYC & Company was grateful to secure relief funds through the federal Paycheck Protection Program.
Further, the $30 million investment for It’s Time for New York City was made possible through American Rescue Plan Act funds secured and awarded by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer and Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Travel And Tour World: Can you mention the statistics of the international tourist arrivals and spending in New York?
Fred Dixon: In 2019, New York City welcomed a record 66.6 million visitors to New York City, including 13.5 million international travellers, generating $47.4 billion in total spending. It is worth noting that while the international market makes up just 20 percent of visitation to NYC, it represents about half of spending and half of hotel room nights.
Travel And Tour World: Please tell us about the expectation in 2022 travel scenario and what is your opinion on it?
Fred Dixon: As our current forecasts stand, we expect to welcome 57.9 million visitors in 2022. Following the wider restart of inbound international travel last month, we expect that international travel from 2021 to 2022 will triple in volume. While this crisis remains unpredictable and we can anticipate hurdles along the way, we are optimistic and look forward to welcoming the world back to NYC.