NYC & Company on a mission down under

CEO Fred Dixon says Australian travellers are migrating from the west to east USA

New York City tourism officials have forecast visitor numbers from Australia to rise moderately in 2020, despite a struggling Australian dollar. NYC & Company senior brass were in the country last week as part of the Visit USA tour, using the event to host break-out B2B functions of their own in Brisbane and Sydney.

Heading the delegation was NYC & Company’s CEO and President, Fred Dixon, and Managing Director of Tourism Development – Established Markets, Reginald Charlot. Accompanying the NYC & Company crew were representatives from Conrad New York Midtown, The James Hotel New York NoMad, Hotel Beacon, Metropolitan Museum of Art, The RIDE, Broadway Inbound, Disney on Broadway and Air New Zealand.

Speaking exclusively with LATTE at the Sydney afternoon tea event last Friday [21 February, 2020], Dixon said the future travel forecasts for Australian travellers to the Big Apple are “really bright”.

Air New Zealand’s new non-stop service from Auckland to New York (Newark Liberty International Airport) will launch in October, and in the not-too-distant future, Qantas is expected to give the green light for non-stop flights from Sydney to New York by 2023 under ‘Project Sunrise’.

Dixon said he was excited for Air New Zealand’s commitment of expanded air capacity to the USA.

“I think the US is well positioned at the moment for future growth and we’re on a good trajectory with the trade. There’s really good forward momentum for the US, and particularly New York,” Dixon said.

“There’s been a huge migration in Australian travellers, as you would naturally expect, from the west coast to the east coast. For years Australians have explored the western United States very thoroughly and now with these faster flights and more connection, people wanting to explore further, the east coast is the biggest area of growth and we think we are well positioned and these flights will feed into that demand,” he said.

Jacqui Walshe, The Walshe Group with Fred Dixon, President & CEO of NYC & Company

And while the Australian dollar continues to linger in the mid-US$0.60 cent mark, he was very optimistic that the currency would not hold travellers back.

“The fact that we’re performing as well as we are given those challenges is a really good sign,” Dixon said.

NYC & Company’s Reginald Charlot said Australia was currently New York City’s fifth-largest overseas market, behind the UK, China, Brazil and France. While the 2019 visitor figures are yet to be fully tallied, the city has forecast that 722,000 Aussies travelled there last year; that’s up from the firm figure of 714,000 in 2018.

The forecast Australian tourist number for 2020 sits around 725,000.

The NYC & Company team: Kristin Hellmrich (Australia/NZ); Reginald Charot, Managing Director - Tourism Development, Established Markets; Sarah Stevenson (Australia/NZ), Christopher Heywood, EVP Global Communications; Jacqui Walshe, The Walshe Group, Chairman and MD of The Walshe Group; Britt Hijkoop, Director Communications International and Fred Dixon, President and CEO.

Charlot said Aussies are an important source for New York as they stay the longest – on average 9.2 nights.

“That’s why it is important for us to be here, to meet with the advisors. There are a lot of Australians who are repeat travellers to New York. Agents want to know more – what’s new and different to share with those clients – to keep them informed and educated,” Charlot said.

Last week’s three-city roadshow saw NYC & Company present to around 750 travel advisors at the B2B events.

New luxury hotels

Aman New York - slated to open in Q4 2020

New York already has a large array of classic luxury hotels, with the likes of Rosewood’s The Carlyle, Lotte New York Palace and The Peninsula well established. But a new wave of luxury openings will expand room inventory at the top end of the market over the next two years.

Dixon said the addition of Aman, Six Senses and another Ritz-Carlton branded property (Ritz-Carlton NoMad) will create an “infusion of new” and bring renewed interest in the destination.

Infrastructure developments

Rendering of the upgraded New York John F Kennedy International Airport

New York’s three airports – John F Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark – are all currently undergoing major renovations. Dixon said LaGuardia is being built new “from the ground up” and is close to being completed. Work at JFK is going through a similar process and being revamped into two different terminals.

On the cruise front, an announcement on the expansion of operation of Manhattan West is imminent, Dixon teased. He indicated to LATTE that there will be renewed investment in the port, enabling not only larger ships but increased frequency.

Developments are also slated for the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal where Cunard operates its transatlantic voyages from, but not to the same scale as what is planned at Manhattan West.

Lower Manhattan revitalisation

The Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center

NYC & Company’s local representative Sarah Stevenson said one area of NY that Australian travel advisors should be recommending to their clients is the World Trade Center district.

The zone is bursting with attractions (the Oculus, tours through Wall Street, 9/11 Memorial, One World Observatory and access to Staten Island), luxury shopping options (Westfield and Brookfield Place), dining (Jean-Georges Seafood Market, rooftop venues at Pier 17) and hotels (the boutique 66-room and -suite Mr. C Seaport or the 189-room Four Seasons Downtown).

“You can easily spend a whole day there. There are great bars, restaurants and things to see and do. Travel agents should get onboard with sending guests to this part of town. Their clients will love it and their recommendation,” Stevenson told LATTE.

A brand-new multi-venue art centre – The Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center – is slated to open at the World Trade Center complex in 2021 and, according to Dixon, will be the precinct’s “crown jewel”.

To find out what’s new in New York, click here.

Lead image: In Sydney at Paramount House in Surry Hills are the New York delegation with the prizewinner of a trip to New York. From left to right are – Nicholas Faranda, Disney on Broadway, Rebecca George, Broadway Inbound; Stephen Braun, Metropolitan Museum of Art; Alexandra Rodriguez, Hotel Beacon; NYC; Fred Dixon, NYC & Company, Gabriel Fonseca, Air New Zealand; prize winner Milton Massel, Travel Advisor, Goldman Travel Corporation; Reginald Charlot, NYC & Company; Desiree Castillo, Conrad New York Midtown; Gus Park, The James Hotel New York NoMad; Kristin Hellmrich, NYC & Company (Australia/NZ); Dan Rogoski, The Ride; and Sarah Stevenson, NYC & Company (Australia/NZ).

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