Recognizing that tourism in New York City is a $46 billion industry and identifying The Staten Island Ferry as one of NYC’s most visited attractions, with over 1.5 million tourists riding the Ferry each year, Borough President James S. Oddo’s Office of Tourism and Cultural Affairs recently rebranded to incentivize those travelling from Manhattan to stay and spend the day in our borough.
“The Tourism and Cultural Affairs Office has worked successfully with all of our attractions to position Staten Island as a destination and ready us for an influx of tourists with the opening of the Empire Outlets,” said Borough President Oddo of the rebrand, which is aptly titled VISIT Staten Island.
With the collaboration of the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce and Destination St. George, VISIT Staten Island received a New York state grant in 2018, which allocated funds for the marketing of the borough as a destination.
ThoughtMatter, a Manhattan-based branding agency, designed the brand and fully captured the essence of Staten Island as a place where people live, work and play. Native Staten Islander Tommy Rausch developed the website, working with ThoughtMatter and the VISIT Staten Island team to invite all to use the website as a resource to explore the borough. The website features information about attractions, itineraries, events, transportation and more.
“Re-branding Staten Island as a destination is an important step in throwing our doors open to the world and welcoming people to discover all of the wonderful assets on Staten Island,” explained Jennifer Sammartino, the BP’s deputy chief of staff, who formerly served as director of Tourism and Cultural Affairs.
Sammartino described the website, which features a very detailed breakdown of Staten Island’s main attractions and a plethora of facts about some of the lesser known historic locations – think Garibaldi Meucci Museum and Sandy Ground Historical Society. There’s even a “Did You Know” section that highlights a dozen or so fun facts about the borough: Did you know that the original headquarters in the G.I. Joe comic book was set in Fort Wadsworth and that chewing gum was invented here?
And the website was just part of the rebrand. A kiosk at the Ferry terminal in St. George is staffed by volunteers who greet tourists and fill them in about the borough’s offerings. The booth, which is open from Wednesday to Sunday, 10am to 6pm, from May to October, is stocked with brochures and maps of Staten Island attractions. The BP’s office says the kiosk has been instrumental in ushering an influx of visitors to those sites over the past several months.
“This is a unique spot amid the hustle and bustle of New York City,” Sammartino concluded, detailing the borough’s extensive arts and culture community which features 30 museums and art galleries. “We’ve been the best kept secret and now our secret is out. Come for the free ferry ride and stay for our food, history, art, maritime lore, nature, and so much more. And this revived campaign also encourages residents to explore their own backyard and take advantage of the programs and events that are found so close to home.”