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HOTEL OWNERS SEEK GREATER VOICE ROLE OF FALLS CONVENTION, VISITORS BUREAU CRITICIZED

Owners of six major downtown hotels are banding together in an effort to get more representation on the board of the Niagara Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Radomir Matovic, owner of two of the hotels, the Niagara Hilton and the Holiday Inn, Monday said he and the four other owners are taking steps for providing better direction to the bureau's executive board.

The four others are the Ramada Inn, Day's Inn, Quality Inn and Radisson Inn.

"All we want is more representation on the board," Matovic said. "We want to work with the board. We have nothing against them."

Eugene Guido, owner of the Ramada, said there is a possibility the six hotels may withdraw from the bureau. He said the current board is doing an adequate job but improvements are needed. "We think the board staff and the director . . . can do a more effective job if the hotel directors are consulted," he said.

Currently, hotel owners are represented by two persons on the 22-member board: Matovic and David A. Fleck of the Howard Johnson's on Main Street. Fleck is not a member of the bloc of six.

Bureau officials recognize the clout that could be exercised by the bloc. "They have roughly 46 percent of the rooms within the city limits," said Ray Wigle, the bureau's director of communications. There are about 3,000 rooms in the city.

Mark Gatley, executive director of the bureau, said a possible withdrawal from the executive board is not on the agenda of Wednesday's board meeting. "We have received no communication from them -- official or otherwise," Gatley said.

He added that the six hotels contribute about $20,000 in annual dues, which he termed relatively insignificant. Their major contribution is through the bed tax, paid to the City of Niagara Falls and refunneled to the bureau. That contribution would remain unchanged even if they withdrew from the bureau, he said.

Matovic said he joined the bloc "so long as it's peaceful . . . and we can all do something together."

He said the six want to see more professional people handle convention sales. He charged that the current bureau staff is not getting the "proper guidance from the executive board."

Other executives of the Hilton, who declined to be identified, said the bureau often attracts the wrong type of shows and targets its efforts at cities that don't bring an appreciable return.

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