New tourism campaign includes cultural sites of African-American significance in New York

The state of New York is launching a tourism campaign that highlights its African-American cultural sites and history.

Governor Hochul announced the initiative on Friday, in celebration of Black History Month. The campaign aims to promote the state’s Black-owned businesses and restaurants, as well as its numerous historic sites related to civil rights movements, the underground railroad, and other related events.

The governor specifically mentioned historical figures such as Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass, who either lived or visited the state, as she introduced the “I LOVE NY Black travel initiative.”

“Every New Yorker needs to go experience that firsthand and be in awe of what individuals have done, who believe so deeply, not in their own security, their own safety, but are willing to break out to save other people and give them a better life. In that case, a life of freedom,” she said of Tubman during an announcement at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. “That’s why we’re doing this.”

The tourism campaign seeks to position New York as an attractive vacation spot for Black travelers, with a dedicated section on the I LOVE NY website, promotional initiatives, and new programming that encourage visitors and their families to engage with the state’s African-American culture, cuisine, arts, and events.

Governor Hochul emphasized the state’s cultural and historical importance as the birthplace of hip hop and the location of numerous underground railroad sites. She also highlighted Black-owned restaurants like Sylvia’s Restaurant of Harlem, while presenting a brief video showcasing some of the state’s renowned locations.

“So, we’re rolling out the red carpet to travelers near and far, Black travelers, other travelers who want to have a shared experience and highlight our vibrant, extremely vibrant Black culture here,” the governor said.

According to the governor’s office, as of 2021, tourism and travel generate an annual economic impact of $85.5 billion in the state.

This sector is the third largest industry in the state, providing employment to one out of every ten private sector workers.

Governor Hochul acknowledged that Black travelers constitute over 13% of the domestic leisure travel market and spend more than $109 billion each year.

“New York has so much to offer travelers from across the state and country,” NAACP New York president Hazel Dukes said. “Black communities have been a critical part of the tourism industry for years.”

According to the governor’s office, the new initiative aims to increase awareness of Black culture, art, and heritage sites across the state, such as the Jackie Robinson Museum in lower Manhattan, the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park in upstate Auburn, and the Colored Musicians Club in Buffalo.

Empire State Development’s President, CEO, and Commissioner, Hope Knight, stated that New York already values its diversity.

“(W)e want to ensure that visitors from around the world recognize the opportunities to celebrate Black history and heritage throughout the state,” Knight said. “Given the unparalleled depth and variety of attractions here that appeal to Black travelers, this program is a perfect fit to spotlight and showcase these places, stories and people.”