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1/22/2009
12:06 PM
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New York City Unveils Online Travel Tools

The city has partnered with Google, Travelocity, and others to provide personalized trip plans, maps, and Google Earth views.

The Big Apple has a new way to welcome visitors and provide New Yorkers with information about what's happening in their city.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled a new trip planner Web site and a new tourism information center that will allow visitors to create and print personal travel plans and maps using touch-screen technology. New York worked with Google, Travelocity, and several media outlets to develop maps, calendars, and event listings, as well as information on hotels, restaurants, and activities.

"Tourism is a cornerstone of our economy," Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert Lieber said in a statement released Wednesday. "Despite anticipated economic challenges this year in the hospitality and leisure sectors, New York City continues to be the number one U.S. destination for tourism spending while leading the nation with the highest hotel occupancy rates. It is incumbent on us to continue to offer our visitors and residents the best tools available to stimulate travel to New York City and within the five boroughs."

The site, at www.nycgo.com, features a list of lifestyle categories for events and sights, with information available in 10 languages. The Web site, developed with help from interactive agency Huge Inc., will also host user-generated content, including profiles, ratings, and reviews, through a MyNYC feature. Travelocity and Open Table will provide exclusive flight, car rental, and vacation packages, as well as hotel and restaurant bookings. The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs will list more than 300 event and exhibition listings from groups throughout the five boroughs.

The new information center, on Seventh Avenue, between 52nd and 53rd streets, features digital maps and information on events and venues, through wall-mounted, multilingual information kiosks in 10 languages. Visitors can buy MetroCards for subway travel and tickets to area attractions. Employees will be available to offer assistance in several languages.

The information center, with $1.8 million worth of renovations since July 2008, will allow visitors to plan tours and use Google Earth to view details on a video wall. Information can also be transferred to mobile devices, using SMS.

"New York City's innovative implementation of Google tools will improve the experience for both visitors and locals," Google senior VP Tim Armstrong said. "Whether planning a trip on nycgo.com using Google Maps, navigating the city using Google Maps for mobile, or watching a Google Earth fly-over of your trip, we hope that this partnership will help visitors and residents take full advantage of all that New York City has to offer."

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