With freebies, New York City targets ‘long-staying’ Indians

New Delhi, Sep 12 (IANS) If the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, and the glitzy Times Square of New York city have not ticked off your bucket list, here’s a chance. The most visited city in the US awaits, with lots more new to offer Indians, officials said.

“The Indian market is critically important to New York city, the most visited US city by Indians,” Christopher Heywood, senior vice president for global communications with NYC and Company, told IANS in an interview.

“With many new attractions and low-cost options, we have a lot more to offer Indians,” said the senior executive of NYC and Company, the official marketing, tourism and partnership organization Big Apple.

To woo Indians on a budget travel to the US, the city has free and low-cost options throughout its five boroughs — Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island, Heywood said.

These low-cost options include free admission to museums like the 9/11 Memorial, Museum of Modern Art, the Bronx Museum of the Arts. This apart, they also offer New York Explorer Pass and other city passes, which include 10 to 80 attractions.

Indians can also visit the art exhibitions featuring Indian artists, like the Whitney Museum, which will soon welcome Indian pianist-musician Vijay Iyer, he said.

“We encourage the value conscious Indians to visit during January-February when we have deals on restaurants, museums and shopping. These options are so that Indians could enjoy a live-like-a-local experience,” Heywood said.

“Indians stay in New York on an average for at least 13 nights, with the majority, 56 percent, traveling for leisure — including 31 percent of them visiting their friends or families in the city,” he said.

“Indians visiting friends and relatives act like our ambassadors for travel to US.”

New York had an estimated 263,000 Indian visitors in 2014, a 12 percent rise since the previous year, Heywood said, and that a total of 278,000 visitors were expected this year. India is the 12th largest overseas market for the city and Indians stay the longest.

“Although we recognize that the visa process to US has its own difficulties but it certainly has improved. On an average, we find Indians planning their trip to New York 52 days ahead,” Heywood said.

Unlike for other countries where the visa is given only for the duration of travel, Indians can take advantage of getting the visa for 10 years straight, he said.

“To cater to the growing number of visitors we are making 10,000 new hotel rooms in the city to take it to a total of 113,000 rooms,” Heywood said.

Overall in 2014, New York city welcomed a record 56.4 million visitors, which generated $61.3 billion in economic activity. “This year, we sould have about 58.1 million tourists from around the world visiting New York. And by end-2012, we should have at least 67 million visitors.”

(Bhavana Akella can be contacted at bhavana.a@ians.in)

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