Quick —name some things people love about Queens.
The cheap food from around the world? The baseball? The most diverse neighborhoods that no other borough can shake a stick at? (That’s right, Brooklyn, not even you.)
Now, create a catchy phrase that encompasses these things —and draws more visitors to the borough.
That’s what individuals representing businesses across the borough — from the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria to the Wyndham Garden Hotel in Long Island City and the United States Tennis Association — began to do during a meeting of the Queens Tourism Council at the Resorts World Casino New York City in South Ozone Park on Tuesday.
The group, which the Queens Economic Development Corporation kick-started into action this winter after it essentially existed only in name for years, is trying to start a campaign to drive people to Queens — think the “I Love New York” slogan that began in the 1970s and has gone on to become recognized worldwide.
And while Queens may never be Manhattan when it comes to generating tourism, council members said they’re hoping to let everyone from Turkish residents visiting family in Sunnyside to those just off the plane at JFK and seniors living throughout the city that there are plenty of reasons to explore Queens.
“We can really position ourselves as a more affordable way to visit New York City,” said Steve Hofstetter, who owns the Laughing Devil Comedy Club on Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City.
Michelle Stoddart, the director of public relations and community development at the casino, said the establishment is drawing about 50,000 daily, and noted she and others could work with area businesses to encourage gamblers to leave their games and see what the rest of Queens has to offer.
“Beyond our facility, Queens offers a lot of gems they can explore when they want to take a break from gambling,” Stoddart said.
Group members aim to soon come up with a slogan for Queens —and they’re hoping that its creation is a metaphor for a new chapter for the borough. No longer will Queens be seen as the red-headed stepchild to Manhattan’s museums or Brooklyn’s cultural hot spots, but instead could be a reminder that the borough is often the city for which many come looking —it’s the diversity that Manhattan has been hemorrhaging for years.
“It needs to be something someone who grew up in Queens would say, but works for tourists too,” Hofstetter said. “It can’t just be, ‘Queens — north of Brooklyn.’”
In addition to an explicit campaign promoting Queens, Rob MacKay, director of tourism for the QEDC, said they’re working on many other initiatives that could draw people. Most recently, the QEDC received a grant from the NYC & Company Foundation to create a 114-page guide book to the borough, titled “Queens in Your Pocket.”
“We’re giving these out at all different spots — hotels, the visitor’s center,” said MacKay, who wrote the guide’s text. “We’re already running low, which is a good sign.”
The next meeting of the Queens Tourism Council will be held at 10 a.m. on May 8 at the Museum of the Moving Image at 36-01 35 Ave. in Astoria.