Brooklyn Brand Bringing in Tourists

Posted on 19. Oct, 2010 by in Uncategorized

Sony, Nike, Coca-cola?  Fuhgeddaboutit!

The biggest new brand is Brooklyn.  The city’s most popular borough is channeling its iconic history and new reputation as an artistic haven to bring tourists out of Manhattan and across the Brooklyn Bridge.

“Brooklyn is increasingly the destination of choice for savvy tourists,” says Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.  “Brooklyn is more than a borough—it is its own brand, which makes it one of the hottest destinations around.”

Brooklyn is so hot, the brand is spreading.  Within the next month, a Brooklyn-themed bar featuring Brooklyn favorites such as Brooklyn Brewery and Coney Island beers is scheduled to open.  There’s only one problem.  The bar is opening – in Manhattan.

“If you’re a tourist from Madison, Wisconsin, do you think you’re going to go to Brooklyn? No,” Brooklyneer co-owner Billy Waite told the Daily News earlier this month.

For as much effort the borough has put in to gathering a tourism following, they still play second fiddle to their sister borough to the west, Manhattan.  Though Brooklyn does not keep official statistics on how many tourists visit each year, they estimate that a little over 1,000 tourists pass through their visitors center each month, or 12,000 per year.  By comparison, the city as a whole brought in almost 46 million tourists in 2009.

Still, Brooklyn’s brand buzz is slowly beginning to draw a following from repeat tourists looking to see something new.  And hotels are popping up all over downtown Brooklyn to cash in on the crowds. At the beginning of this year, Smith Travel Research Inc. reported that 40 hotel projects were planned for the borough in the coming years.  Before the Marriott opened in 1998, a large hotel hadn’t been built in over 68 years.

The Nu Hotel on Smith Street, is one of the recent additions to downtown Brooklyn.  The hotel connects to the Brooklyn feel by displaying works by local Brooklyn artists and lending visitors bikes to ride around local neighborhoods.

“A lot of parts of Manhattan have been gentrified, but Brooklyn has the edge,” says Javier Egipciaco, General Manager of the Nu Hotel.  “Brooklyn offers a tourist that urban, real New York experience.”

While Manhattan has been infilrated by mid-America standbys like Red Lobster and Applebee’s, Brooklyn still retains its reputation for authentic Italian food and, of course, pizza.

Pizza is how tour guide Tony Muia got his start.  Muia started his tour business in 2005 as a pizza tour, visiting famous pizzerias like Grimaldi’s, Di Fara’s, and Spumoni Gardens.  But sensing room for growth, he added a borough-wide tour, to capitalize on Brooklyn’s history.

Brooklyn’s history is part of what’s keeping tourism in Brooklyn on the rise, and will continue to draw crowds in coming years.

“Brooklyn’s been in people’s consciousness throughout their life whether they think about it or not,” says Muia.  “Once we go to South Brooklyn and show a clip of Saturday Night Fever on the bus, you watch their faces and there’s instant recognition.”

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