At this time of year, a lot of destinations don’t bother to try and attract tourists. They think that people are only interested in skiing or winter sun breaks. We have the consumer travel shows like Destinations and the Holiday Shows but not a lot more than that.
But that doesn’t apply if you are New York.
They have another way to entice you to visit their city during January and February. We are one week into what is called the NYC Restaurant Week. It actually lasts two weeks and involves discounts off 290 different restaurants throughout the city. In addition, they have a truck which drives around the place offering soups from some of those restaurants for $6 plus bread and a complimentary beverage. So office workers who can’t take time off at lunch can take advantage of the system as well. This is the 19th year that New York & Co., the tourism arm of the city, has promoted the idea and it just gets bigger every year. Coca-Cola chips in the free beverages and Jet Blue and American Express sponsor parts as well.
We are familiar with this idea in the UK but generally, newspapers like The Times, The Scotsman and The Daily Telegraph run it provided that you collect so many coupons. It is really just a tool to build circulation. But why should it be? Why shouldn’t destinations like Visit London, Leith, Leeds or Llandudno or anywhere with a number of restaurants introduce the idea as a winter tourist attraction? Picking a month where there isn’t much going on might encourage us to leave our armchairs and explore some towns and cities. New York has shown it can work. We have enough cookery TV programmes and food fairs for which you have to pay money, why not a Foodfest Week where the tourist board gets the local restaurants, cafes, and pubs on board and we get discounts off the meals? As a way of showcasing local expertise and attracting visitors, I am sure some tourist board should take up the idea.