Newark Mayor Ras Baraka touted a marketing campaign Thursday through the Greater Newark Convention and Visitors Bureau as a key to making Newark Liberty International Airport the focus for bringing tourists to Newark.
“We appreciate the Port Authority’s understanding that Newark is a destination, not a place to go through,” Baraka said. “Millions of passengers come through Newark Airport. When you go to other cities and stop in their airports, you know you are in that city. This is a chance to make real connections between the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.”
Port Authority of New York & New Jersey Chairman Kevin O’Toole heard about this press conference a few weeks ago.
“Our state rises and falls based on Newark,” O’Toole said. “On behalf of Port Authority President Rick Cotton, we like this partnership. We invested $2.7 billion in Newark One as a start. We have a great vision that rests on what we do.”
Dozens of people gathered at the airport to hear the announcement at a press conference inside Terminal B.
“Newark is managing its market and its message to that market, rather than having it being managed by outsiders,” Seth Grossman, CEO of nonprofit Ironbound Business Improvement in Newark, said. “It was remarkable yesterday and today.”
Karin Aaron, president and CEO of the Newark Convention and Visitors Bureau, recalled drafting a document on how to make Newark a destination. She recalled an earlier disconnect between the convention and visitors bureau and the airport.
“My attitude was you got to go big or go home,” Aaron said. “We wanted Newark to thrive and be respected. We knew 42 million passengers travel through Newark each year. … It is about partnerships and extending a hand.”
Jeff Vasser of the New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism, said he is looking to attract 15 million international visitors who land in Newark to stay in Newark.
“They spend twice as long as domestic travelers,” Vasser said. “They want to see our small quaint towns, our great urban centers, our farms, our beaches. … Newark has got to be perceived as more than an airport. We look forward to working with Karin and the rest of her team to make Newark a great tourism destination.”
The port authority operates Newark Liberty International Airport, La Guardia Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport, the Holland Tunnel, the Lincoln Tunnel, and other transportation infrastructure in New York City and New Jersey.