Emerging Market Expected to Flourish as a Result of New Leisure Travel Agreement between the U.S. and China

New York, NY (June 21, 2008) NYC & Company CEO George Fertitta today joined Deputy Director General of China National Tourism Administration Li Yaying and Asian Art Curator for the Metropolitan Museum of Art Jason Sun in welcoming the first Chinese group leisure travelers to the United States during a reception at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The inaugural trip, which brought two hundred Chinese visitors from Beijing, Shanghai and Guandong to New York City, was made possible due to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) and the U.S. Department of Commerce. The MOU, announced in December 2007, formally sanctions group leisure travel to the U.S. while also permitting America’s destinations to market themselves in China. This historic agreement is expected to result in even more significant growth in the already emergent Chinese market.

“Over the past few years, China has become one of our strongest and fastest growing international markets, with a record number travelers and visitor spending dollars each year,” said NYC & Company CEO George Fertitta. “This first leisure group represents a great milestone for us, not only because of what it means to the NYC travel industry and overall economy, but also because it will inevitably result in improved cultural understanding and appreciation between New Yorkers and Chinese visitors to the City.”

NYC & Company established a representative office in Shanghai in June 2007, to develop its presence in the growing China market. With a forecasted 160,000 visitors to New York City from China and Hong Kong last year, Chinese travel accounted for $353 million in visitor spending in 2007. The average Chinese tourist spent an estimated $265 per day, or nearly $2,204 per visit to New York City. Furthermore preliminary findings of a ground-breaking research study of Chinese travel patterns that NYC & Company is currently participating revealed that the most frequently mentioned “dream destination” for Chinese long-haul travelers is the United States, with New York City is their number one city to visit.

In preparation for the expected increase in Chinese visitors, NYC & Company has created a Simplified Chinese language guide and website. The organization’s Chinatown kiosk is staffed with Mandarin speaking representatives, available to assist Chinese tourists. In addition, many cultural institutions and attractions offer services and amenities to Chinese visitors. The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art offer Mandarin audio guides, and Gray Line New York Sightseeing’s City Tours offers Mandarin bus tours as well as a variety of other foreign languages.

Over the last year, NYC & Company has opened nine international offices, including three Asia offices in Shanghai, China; Seoul, South Korea; and Tokyo, Japan. NYC & Company’s international expansion is a key step to achieve Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s goal of attracting 50 million visitors by 2015.

About NYC & Company
NYC & Company is the official marketing, tourism and partnership organization 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.

Carli Smith
NYC & Company
tel 212 484 1270

Tiffany Townsend
NYC & Company
tel 212 484 1270