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TOURISM IS OFF FOR THE MONTH, FALLS MERCHANTS REPORT

Members of the Niagara Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau say tourism has slacked off so far this month and they are unsure if the decline indicates a bad summer season.

Although hard figures are not at hand, establishments ranging from the downtown Howard Johnson motel to the Factory Outlet Mall in the Town of Niagara were complaining at a meeting of the bureau Wednesday of a relatively slow month.

Phillip Villella, president of the Route 62 Association and owner of a motel, said he had noticed a lack of European tourists this year and suspected the World Cup tournament, which began on June 8 and will continue for 30 days, had something to do with it.

Susan Metro of the Factory Outlet Mall said: "We've traditionally had a two- or three-week lull in June. The only thing we can attribute it to is graduations and weddings. It ties up people for the weekend, I think."

Mark Butera, advertising committee chairman for the bureau, chalks the problem up to people trying to save more money.

County Tourism Director Richard P. Renaud said responses from advertising campaigns have increased but there appears to be a "very soft year for the consumer" regionwide.

"My opinion is people are taking real short one-day trips," he said. "A lot of the attractions people I've talked to have said their numbers are relatively good."

Mark G. Gatley, executive director of the bureau, said the research should be done to see if the tourism lull is local or on a much larger scale, and then act accordingly.

"We have to calculate what we do," he said in response to a proposal to raise $10,000 for a limited advertising response. "We just can't spend money and throw it out there."

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