When Lonely Planet named Queens the number one must-visit destination in the United States for 2015, the collective reaction was basically "well, okay then." Except for, it seems, hotel developers. The Times reports that there are a whopping 47 hotels in some stage of planning in Queens15 more than what's planned for Brooklyn, according to data from STR, "a leading hotel research company." Data from NYC & Company, the city's tourism marketing firm, shows that tourism to Queens increased 12 percent from 2012 to 2013 (they are clearly a little slow with data collection), which also tops Brooklyn, where there was only an 8 percent increase.
Officials in Queens are rightly over the moon about the borough's new attention, but the Times, though the writer does not state it outright, seems wary:
Lonely Planet made a decision in December that stunned many in the travel industry, even those deeply invested in promoting the borough. It named Queens the No. 1 travel destination in the United States for 2015. Yes, Queens. Not Miami, the Grand Canyon, Washington, San Francisco or, more to the point, Manhattan, but rather New York City's equivalent of a flyover state, perhaps most famous for two sitcoms, one featuring a food-fixated deliveryman and the other a xenophobic bigot.
Ouch. For what it's worth, Queens' promoters understand the skepticism, and sometimes agree. The director of PR, marketing and tourism for the Queens Economic Development Corporation, Rob MacKay, recounted a story of a conversation with a French journalist for the Times: "She said, 'I'm so excited to see Long Island City. Everybody in Paris is talking about Long Island City.' And I said, 'Really?'" Really?
· Tourists Have Landed in Queens. They're Staying. [NYT]
· Brooklyn Hotel Boom Is Creating a 'Glut' of New Rooms [Curbed]