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Don’t let tourists drift

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Residents of Red Hook said they were awakened last Saturday by the foghorn on the Queen Mary 2 as she slipped into her brand-new berth at the foot of Pioneer Street.

That foghorn should be a wake-up call for the entire borough. The arrival of the world’s largest passenger ship — and the debarkation of thousands of wealthy tourists — is a historic moment that Brooklyn must not let slip by.

As our own Gersh Kuntzman and Ariella Cohen discovered as they interviewed sea-weary travelers leaving the ship last Saturday, virtually none had any intention of exploring the borough where their massive boat was moored. Instead, they hopped right onto waiting buses that whisked them into Manhattan, where they could spend their money on Fifth Avenue.

Hey, there, big spender: Brooklyn has a pretty lively Fifth Avenue, too!

While we’re not so naïve that we expect Brooklyn to be a cruise tourist’s dream vacation, the borough did expect — and must now demand — that the city tourism-industrial complex do much more to promote Brooklyn to the million passengers who will arrive here this year. Yes, Bloomingdale’s is “like no other store in the world,” but that doesn’t mean a few tourists can’t be encouraged to spend some money at Luce on the Hook, one of the closest boutiques to the Queen Mary’s new home.

Borough President Markowitz will put Brooklyn-savvy, map-wielding volunteers at the terminal whenever boats come and go — and that’s a great start. But it’s no substitute for an aggressive campaign that actually puts cruise ship passengers on a bus tour of our borough.

Cunard officials said they are open to the idea, but that means Brooklyn needs to do the hard work itself. A good idea would be for the Brooklyn Marriott to make special deals with passengers beginning or ending their QM2 trips — but when The Brooklyn Papers called the hotel to see what was in the works, a spokesman said that nothing was.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. After all, this is a borough that still does not have — despite all the confused tourists wandering aimlessly around Cadman Plaza Park — a decent sign leading people to the footpath of our main tourist attraction, the Brooklyn Bridge.

And don’t get us started on the Promenade!



Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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