When Queens became the “epicenter of the epicenter” of the global health crisis in March 2020, tourism in the “World’s Borough” came to a halt. Restaurants, transportation, recreation and sporting events have been canceled as COVID-19 closed establishments and devastated the local economy.
Two years later, as Queens emerges from the pandemic, the Queens Tourism Council, in partnership with the Queens Chamber of Commerce, is working to revitalize the economy and bring people together.
“Tourism has slowly grown and we were firing on all cylinders before COVID. Everyone was doing great,” said Rob MacKay, Public Relations, Marketing and Tourism, Queens Economic Development Council (QEDC). “We lost a lot of that during COVID, but I feel like we’re rushing – we’re going to have a great summer. People are starting to go out more, new restaurants are always opening, and annual events are coming back. »
The Queens Tourism Council, which was established 10 years ago and is part of the QEDC, is helping to promote a multidisciplinary arts festival, ‘Queens Rising’, which will take place in June. The month-long event will highlight the cultural and creative diversity of Queens through unique performances, exhibitions and commissions.
Led by a coalition of major arts organizations in the borough, the festival will serve as a beacon after the difficult challenges of a health and economic crisis, which prevented the public from experiencing the arts in person, and a period of social struggle to racial equity that has forced deep judgment in society, the coalition said on its website.
“We want people to know Queens is back and promote all the wonderful things that are happening,” MacKay said. “I also have a feeling it’s going to be a great summer in the Rockaways too, with more people at the beach and dining out.”
The tourism industry is vital to the revival of Queens, according to MacKay.
“RegardingRestaurants, hotels, transportation and the number of jobs in Queens depend on the tourism industry, as well as John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport,” MacKay said.
Queens hosts the US Open tennis championships at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, which begins the last Monday in August and continues for two weeks through September. The event attracts over 700,000 fans and offers a wide variety of dining options, reflecting the vibrancy and culture of New York.
The park is also home to Citi Field, home of Major League Baseball’s New York Mets, and the popular Queens International Night Market. In South Ozone Park, Resorts World Casino New York is another popular attraction for people, according to MacKay.
The borough’s cultural institutions and museums, such as Flushing City Hall, Museum of Moving Image, New York Hall of Science, Queens Museum and Queens Theater also offer a variety of programs for children. children and their families.
While the majority of the city’s tourism jobs (57.6%) are located in Manhattan, the second-highest concentration of tourism-related jobs is in Queens, according to a report from the NYS Comptroller’s Office. The Astoria and Long Island City area had the highest share of total employment in tourism-related industries, at 19%, which was driven by employment in scheduled passenger air transportation.
As Queens and the entire region seek to recover from the economic devastation caused by the pandemic, tourism will be vital, said Thomas Grech, president and CEO of the Queens Chamber of Commerce.
“We are fortunate to be home to two airports that serve tens of millions of passengers each year, and the continued investment to transform John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport into world-class aviation infrastructure that will have a transformative impact on Queens, creating jobs and catalyzing economic activity that supports local small businesses, especially MWBEs,” said Grech.
Plus, says Grech, they want to make sure people visiting New York know about all the amazing restaurants, hospitality and cultural amenities that make Queens special.
The Chamber has partnered with QEDC to launch QueensBest.orgto showcase all the best the borough has to offer, Grech said.
“Whether you’re from overseas or a lifelong resident of Queens, the website has something for you. And by eating and shopping locally, you’ll help create jobs locally. It’s a win-win,” Grech said.