A new reason for New York City to pull in $44M in tourism

Last year more than 65 million people visited New York City -- and Tuesday a city commission came up with another reason for visitors to flock to the Big Apple.

For the first time ever, New York's famed Central Park will honor women and their accomplishments with a new statue. Central Park has 23 statues of men who left their mark in history but not one honoring the accomplishments of a woman. That changes next August with a new memorial depicting three pioneers in the fight for women's rights: Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Sojourner Truth. Next year also marks the centennial celebration for women winning the right to vote.

Tourists spent an estimated $44 billion in the city last year - and with the anniversary of women's suffrage on the horizon, the new memorial could prove a lure along with other events planned for the anniversary.

"This statue conveys the power of women working together to bring about revolutionary change in our society," said Pam Elam, president of the Monumental Women's Statue Fund, a nonprofit of advocates, historians and community leaders. Historical events, such as last June's 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising in conjunction with World Pride, have been traditional drivers for tourism -- a big business in New York. A record 37.7 million hotel room nights were sold in the Big Apple last year, generating $623 million in estimated hotel occupancy tax revenues according to the city's visitor's bureau, NYC & Company.

The new memorial work is by artist Meredith Bergmann, whose design was chosen from 91 competing submissions and an estimated $1.5 million was privately raised to create and maintain the new monument and for an associated educational program.

"My hope is that all people, but especially young people, will be inspired by this image of women of different races, different religious backgrounds and different economic status working together to change the world," Bergmann said after the vote.

While the 166-acre park does contain statues of fictional characters of women like Mother Goose and Alice in Wonderland, Bergman's piece will be the first to feature female heroes. Some of the men already in the park include Alexander Hamilton, William Shakespeare and Sir Walter Scott.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.