Desperate New York Seeks Tourist Dollars from New Yorkers

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Lingering concern over our swine flu epidemic has made people frightened even to have been in New York, and will probably discourage them from taking vacations here. Tourism is taking a hit; existing hotels are cutting their prices, and new hotels are not getting built. In desperation the city is reaching out to tourists heretofore little seen in New York -- like gay people.

Seriously though, tourist outreach bureau NYC & Company has increased advertising in Spain (half of us speak some variant of their language!), and is targetting another underleveraged community -- New York itself. The Mayor's office announced today the "Nine in '09" campaign, which "encourages residents to explore nine highlighted, culturally-diverse neighborhoods across the five boroughs."

One big advantage of this plea for New Yorkers to staycation: it's cheap. "In today's troubled economic climate, many New Yorkers feel that they have to postpone vacation plans and stay home this summer," says Bloomberg. "The 'Nine in '09' campaign reminds us of the wonderful mix of cultures and diversity that can be found across the five boroughs." So you see, most of you don't really have any choice -- but NYC & Co.'s festive website will make it feel like one.

Their advertised attractions include "Little Ireland" in the Bronx: "With four-leaf clovers and kelly-green signs sprinkled throughout the neighborhood" -- regrettably, they fail to mention the yellow moons and pink hearts -- "you'd half expect to see a pot of gold at the end of Katonah Avenue..." We like to imagine Manhattanites rolling to the Bronx, asking "Which way to Little Ireland?" and receiving a blackthorn stick across the temple in response. Other self-tourist destinations include El Barrio in East Harlem, the West Indian enclaves of Flatbush, and Staten Island's "Little Sri Lanka," a recent and little-used nomenclature, but it's always tough to get Staten Island involved in these things.

Our finances being what they are, we intend to take the ultimate staycation, one in which we continue working.

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