Improved Visitor's Center to Open in Brooklyn to Draw More Tourists to Borough

As the Brooklyn brand grows globally, borough officials say they hope that tourism grows, too. So, they are about to do more to make that happen. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez has exclusive details.

The sights and sounds of Coney Island draw 1.5 million tourists every year. The Christmas lights of Dyker Heights are attracting spectators by the busloads, from Taiwan, Brazil, and India.

Nearly 15 million people visited Brooklyn in 2014. Sounds impressive, but that's only about 15 percent of the total number of tourists who visit the entire city.

Borough officials say they want to attract a bigger slice of the tourism pie. 

"50 percent of everybody who visits New York City should step into Brooklyn; not just walk over the Brooklyn Bridge and go back to Manhattan, but step into Brooklyn and then explore our neighborhoods," Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce president Carlo Scissura said.

To do that, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and the borough president are teaming up to launch a state-of-the-art visitor's center.

"Tourism equals dollars," Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said. "We have our own identity and our own brand."

The visitor's center is planned to be located inside Brooklyn Borough Hall, served by several subway lines and would be a quick walk from the Brooklyn Bridge.

A tourism space was created there in 2004 under the previous borough president Marty Markowitz, but the place became outdated.

"The old place was not really reflective of the new Brooklyn," said Adams.

The center is getting a facelift and is being equipped with new technology, including iPads that point viewers to the chamber's two-year-old tourism website, explorebk.com.

"You can book your hotel stay on explorebk.com, you can see what shows are playing, what restaurants are open, what street festivals are happening, what events are taking place," Scissura said.

Officials say they want visitors to discover scenic sites across the borough, like a fishing trip in Sheepshead Bay, and its cultural treasures, like the city's largest Chinatown.

"You want Chinatown? Go to 8th Avenue in Brooklyn," Scissura said. "We want them to go to Brighton Beach, the largest Russian community."

And for all that information, officials promise that the center will be a one-stop shop, along with some actual shopping; with the Brooklyn brand exploding, the center will sell products made in the borough.

The new and improved Brooklyn visitor's center is expected to be up and running by next month.

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