Hard work is paying off in Niagara Falls with an uptick for businesses that depend on tourists - The Buffalo News
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Hard work is paying off in Niagara Falls with an uptick for businesses that depend on tourists

Niagara Falls tourism is improving with each turn of the page.

Whether that assessment is reached through the observations of small business owners or through hard data collected by the tourism promotion agency for Niagara Falls, this is a story whose chapters are looking more and more promising.

There is the observation of Perry Jost, co-owner of the Elizabeth House, a bed and breakfast, who told a News reporter about the increased number of cars on his street and the uptick in business, including an increase in the number of longer stays, since opening in 2008.

On its website, the Niagara Tourism & Convention Corp. reports that “while hotel inventory has remained relatively stable, bed tax revenue from increased overnight stays has risen more than 70 percent since 2008.” Businesses reported a strong 2015 tourist season, including before Memorial Day and after Labor Day.

Sales of the Niagara Falls Discovery Pass, which provides admission to five attractions at one discounted price, have increased significantly, the average daily hotel room rate was higher than during the past seven summers and the number of room nights booked has increased, due in large part to events at the Conference & Events Center Niagara Falls.

Visitors have been drawn by conferences, outdoor activities (fishing at the top of that list), entertainment and, oh, the falls. The traffic is creating jobs, sustaining businesses and generating tax revenue.

Still, it has long been a struggle to persuade visitors to remain on the U.S. side of the falls and not decamp to the bright lights of Clifton Hill. Not long ago, after tourists stood at the brink of the falls, rode the iconic Maid of the Mist and visited the Cave of the Winds, there was little left to do.

The picture in Niagara Falls is improving. Old Falls Street has been rebuilt, and includes the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute. The Sheraton at the Falls is planning to add a water park to its Third Street operation that already includes a Starbucks, TGI Fridays, video arcade and the Rainforest Café, a tourist attraction in its own right.

Plans also call for redeveloping two-thirds of the former Rainbow Centre shopping mall into a multiuse property that will include a hotel and attractions. New hotels have either just sprung up or soon will. And there is the adventure park with a ropes course and zip line that was opened in late July by Joseph “Smokin’ Joe” Anderson at the site of his former Snow Park on First Street.

Adding to the new construction are major changes in the Robert Moses Parkway. When completed, the improvements will restore access to the Niagara River north and south of the city.

The story on the American side of the falls is becoming a real page turner.

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