Governor Cuomo Appoints Cristyne Nicholas As Chair Of New York State Tourism Advisory Council

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Council provides guidance on state's tourism efforts and boosting travel upstate and downstate

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced the appointment of Cristyne Nicholas to serve as Chair of the New York State Tourism Advisory Council.

“From Long Island’s beaches, the Adirondack High Peaks, Broadway theaters, to Niagara Falls, New York State offers among the most attractive tourist destinations on the planet,” Governor Cuomo said. “Our tourism assets are a central part of our state’s economy, and we must continue our efforts to better market all New York has to offer for the tens of millions of tourists who visit each year. Cristyne’s expertise in strategic marketing and tourism promotion has already had a major impact in building New York City into the one of the world’s leading tourist destinations. I am pleased that Cristyne has agreed to lead the Tourism Advisory Council, and look forward to our work together to market all of our state’s tourist destinations. I also thank Tim Zagat for his leadership of the Council over the past years and the efforts he has taken to increase tourism here in New York State.”

Cristyne Nicholas said, “It is a tremendous honor to be asked by Governor Cuomo to serve as Chair of the New York State Tourism Advisory Council. I am pleased to support the Governor’s work to increase tourism state wide, and I look forward to working with the administration and Empire State Development to make sure our state’s natural beauty and tourist assets are known around the world.”

Ms. Nicholas is the co-founder and CEO of Nicholas & Lence Communications, a New York based strategic communications firm. Previously, Ms. Nicholas spent seven years as President and CEO of NYC & Company, New York City’s official tourism and marketing organization, overseeing record growth in tourism, hotel occupancy, airport arrivals and visitor spending. She created strategic marketing initiatives including the city’s first-ever consumer television campaign, major citywide promotions, and produced major annual events such as Restaurant Week and the NYC Half Marathon. Ms. Nicholas also formulated innovative partnerships with corporate leaders such as American Express, Coca-Cola, Merrill Lynch, Target and American, Delta and Continental Airlines.

Following the events of September 11, Ms. Nicholas spearheaded initiatives to revitalize the city’s $25 billion tourism industry and recruited perception altering events to come to New York, many for the first time, such as The World Economic Forum, The Grammy Awards, The Country Music Awards and Pow Wow, and promoted major projects such as The Gates in Central Park and NYC’s effort to attract the 2012 Olympics.

Crain’s New York Business named her one of the top 40 New York business leaders under the age of 40, Travel Agent Magazine named Ms. Nicholas one the Top 100 People in Travel, and Meetings and Incentive Magazine identified her as one of 10 most influential people in the travel industry.

In 2002 United States Commerce Secretary Don Evans appointed her to the United States-Japan Tourism Export Council. She represented the State Department in 2004 at a conference to build tourism in Eastern Europe and on several occasions testified before Congress on the importance of tourism to the US economy. Prior to joining NYC & Company, Ms. Nicholas served as Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani’s chief spokesperson and Director of Communications. She is a resident of Westchester County.

Ms. Nicholas replaces Tim Zagat, whose two year term as Chair of the Tourism Advisory Council ends this March.

Tim Zagat said, "It's been a privilege to head the Governor's Tourism Advisory Council for the past few years. I have worked closely with Cristyne Nicholas and know her well. Her appointment to succeed me is a great choice. I'm sure she will do as good a job for the State as she did for New York City, when I was Chairman of NYC & Company."

Since taking office, Governor Cuomo has put in place a series of initiatives to bolster statewide tourism, including launching new marketing and advertising campaigns to showcase New York State’s many assets and attractions. Tourism is the fifth largest employer in the State. In 2011 alone, the Empire State welcomed 8.3 percent more visitors than the year before, resulting in $53.9 billion in direct tourism spending and $6.9 billion in state and local tax revenue. To build on these successes and continue to boost tourism and create jobs, the Governor also recently announced several new initiatives to spotlight the State’s natural beauty and recreational opportunities and attract visitors to Upstate New York, as well as Market NY and Taste-NY, to promote “made in New York” products.

The New York State Tourism Advisory Council was established in 1984 to advise the Governor and provide input regarding the state’s tourism efforts. Membership of the council includes representatives from tourism-related industries including travel and vacation businesses, convention bureaus, cultural institutions, theme parks and attractions, hotels and motels, restaurants, water-based recreation businesses, campgrounds, ski facilities, wineries, halls of fame, travel agents and transportation companies. Members serve for terms of two years and are unpaid.

The next meeting of the Tourism Advisory Council is in April up in Albany, the first time such a meeting has taken place Upstate in recent years.

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Josh Knoller
Nicholas & Lence Communications LLC
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