New Interactive Center to Welcome and Guide NYC Tourists

Thursday, January 22, 2009

First it was the city's revamped wedding bureau. Now the city's Tourism office in midtown is the latest to go high tech, with gleaming, interactive maps and more. WNYC's Arun Venugopal was at the opening.

REPORTER: The city will probably struggle to meet its goal of 50 million tourists this year, but it figures the experience of being a tourist can be easier. The new tourism bureau shoves the brochures aside and makes space for several sleek tables, which are actually interactive maps. These let you roam across the city, discovering local stores, restaurants or performances, which can then be emailed to your PDA, or if you're old-school, printed out on traditional paper.

All of this is meant to make the tourist experience more efficient. But the bureau isn't above sheer spectacle. If you want, you can make your customized map appear on a huge, 14-foot LCD screen, which first opens on a Google Earth shot of the planet that slowly closes in on the five boroughs and your tourist destinations. The city insists that no tax dollars were spent on this venture. For WNYC, I'm Arun Venugopal.

HOST: There's more information on the city's new tourism web site,


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