BY TRISHA SAKHUJA
On Tuesday morning, Borough President Melinda Katz introduced her new Director of Cultural Affairs and Tourism, Nayelli Valencia, to a room full of guests at the Queens Council of the Arts in Astoria.
Katz said one of her top priorities as Borough President is to rebrand Queens as a major tourist destination that has a diverse set of unique attractions that appeal to travelers from around the world.
“As my Director of Cultural Affairs and Tourism, Nayelli Valencia will be central to carrying out this branding campaign,” Katz said.
Katz said even though this is exciting for Queens, they have a lot to do in terms of setting priorities for the Borough.
“You don’t come to the City, unless you come to the Borough,” she said.
“Not only do we need to make sure that your individual cultural arts, hotels and business centers thrive, but we need to make sure all of that gets harnessed and that Queens is part of New York City,” she added.
Valencia was previously the development officer for the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Corona and a coordinator and manager of the Latino Cultural Festival at the Queens Theatre in the Park for six years.
Valencia said working at the Kupferberg Center for the Arts at Queens College gave her the opportunity to learn a lot about culture because of the diversity the school offers.
“You walk around the campus, and it is literally like a mini-Queens,” she said.
As director, she said one of her focuses is to work with NYC and Company, the official marketing, tourism and partnership organization, to brand the Borough. She said they are working together to find one voice to represent the diversity of the Borough by creating slogans.
Valencia said even though Queens brings in a lot of tourism during the U.S. Open, they immediately leave after the games to go back to Manhattan.
That is where Valencia steps in; because she said her job will be to prolong the amount of time a tourist stays so they can also spend money in the Borough of Queens.
Katz said she chose Valencia for the job because she can count on her to not only take care of the bare bone issues that Queens cares about and bring the cultural organizations together, but also fight for the appropriate amount of funding Queens deserves for its tourism and cultural affairs budget.
Reach Trisha Sakhuja at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Tsakhuja13.