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New hotels in Queens sign of tourism boom: Mayor

Mayor Michael Bloomberg (c.) visited Z NYC in Long Island City, owned by Henry Zilberman (third from r.), where he celebrated the increased amount of hotels and visitors coming to the city. Photo by Christina Santucci
TimesLedger Newspapers

Surrounded by a spectacular rooftop view of Manhattan, Mayor Michael Bloomberg touted the increase in hotels in Long Island City and elsewhere in the five boroughs during a visit to Z NYC at 11th Street and 43rd Avenue, saying the tourism industry has earned the city $31 billion.

“New York has become the edgy city,” Bloomberg said. “We’re the place where things are happening.”

The mayor’s office said that by the end of 2011, the city will have an unprecedented 90,000 hotel rooms. Of the new hotels, which have an added 24 percent more rooms to the city since 2006, about 40 percent have opened in the outer boroughs. His office said the growth in hotels is a reflection of how the city’s tourism industry attracts 48.8 million visitors a year, $31 billion and employs thousands, with 323,000 people being employed in tourism-related industries as of September.

“The marketplace will tell you,” Bloomberg said. “That’s the wonderful thing about capitalism.”

Most hotels also have an occupancy rate of about 85 percent, Bloomberg said.

Long Island City, which has been a hotbed of development in Queens, has 17 hotels alone and with five more to come, the office said.

“It’s a great sign that Long Island City is desirable to come to,” state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) said.

Henry Zilberman, owner of the 100-unit Z NYC, pointed to the skyline that could be seen from the roof of his hotel, saying he chose to build in Long Island City due to its proximity to Manhattan.

“I don’t have to convince you that it’s the best place to be,” Zilberman said.

George Fertitta, chief executive officer of the city’s marketing and tourism organization NYC & Co., said some 9.7 million international tourists visit the city every year.

“When people from around the world come, they know people in New York,” Bloomberg said. “And where do they live? They live in Queens most of the time.”

Yet even with the major foreign interest in Queens, Bloomberg said the large number of hotels coming to Long Island City would have been inconceivable years ago.

“In all four directions, you see a city that is booming,” he said.

Fertitta said in a statement that Long Island City is becoming a popular tourist site in its own right. In addition to its proximity to Manhattan, the neighborhood also has various museums, art centers and movie studios.

“With its wide range of affordable hotel options, great cultural attractions, thriving restaurant scene and seamless public transportation to Midtown, visitors are finding it to be an ideal NYC destination,” he said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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