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Tour company fights Bronx image

Bronx Times

Showcasing the best of the Bronx hasn’t gone off as well as Alexandra Maruri had hoped.

And she blames Manhattan hotels.

“They’re like a third wheel,” said Maruri. “They’re not helping.”

Maruri heads MC Bronx Historical Tours, an independent tour company highlighting the Bronx’s cultural side. Hotels, however, haven’t been too keen on promoting the Bronx. In one instance, a midtown hotel concierge told Maruri they “were never going to send anyone up there.” Meanwhile, pamphlets of Brooklyn tours were stacked prominently at their desk.

“This happened everywhere I went,” said Maruri, even offering hotel brass, without takers, an on-the-house tour.

The borough diss has has turned her venture into a slowly sinking ship.

“It’s just not enough to keep me floating,” said Maruri, who intends to turn the tide.

Maruri, who hails from Woodlawn, utilizes the tour to shatter the negative image that’s damaged the Bronx since the 1970s.

“It happened at one time,” she said. “We were in this bad situation, but so was New York City.”

The Bronx Tourism Council, an arm of the borough president’s office, has also found a bizarre split among the tourists.

“Some visitors won’t come to the Bronx because of the 1970’s image, and yet others will come specifically to see the 1970’s image,” said council director Olga Tirado. “It’s an odd thing.”

After getting laid off from her marketing post at Nike, Maruri opened MC Bronx Historical Tours in June 2011, investing her personal savings into her two-year startup.

“I’m putting out, putting out, hoping to get something back,” she said.

Guests board a bus in Times Square on any given Wednesday, Thursday or Saturday, shuttling to the Bronx. Maruri then provides the walking tour, stopping by several popular gems like the Edgar Allan Poe Cottage, Woodlawn Cemetery, and the new Yankee Stadium.

She blends history and progress to her tour that include stops at Belmont’s Little Italy where a cultural taste coincides with a taste of local fare.

“You have to see the faces of these people. They’re taken back. They don’t want to leave,” she said, adding folks can sift through MC Bronx Historical Tour reviews on Trip Advisor, a tourist website, for the latest comments on her tour.

The tour is a departure from the now defunct Ghetto Tours that sparked uproar from politicians over a tour profitting from the Bronx’s poverty.

“People still continue to keep the Bronx as a prisoner of it’s past,” said Maruri. “The Bronx went through a bad period, no one’s going to deny that, but we’re going through a change now. We have to change the mindset.”

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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