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Niagara Falls sees upturn in tourism business in 2014

NIAGARA FALLS – Niagara Falls and Niagara County saw some solid tourism numbers last year, according to the Niagara Tourism & Convention Corp.’s annual report released Tuesday.

Some of the highlights of the report included:

• Bed tax revenue countywide was up about 8 percent, with about $2.4 million taken in last year.

• International visits have been increasing, with the projected economic impact up 6.6 percent in the first half of 2014.

• The area’s motorcoach business had an estimated $19.2 million economic impact last year, up more than 25 percent from 2013.

“I’m happy to stand before you today to talk about the wonderful numbers and tourism growth that we have in Niagara County,” said John H. Percy Jr., president and chief executive officer of the region’s destination marketing agency, during an afternoon presentation at the Sheraton at the Falls on Third Street.

The tourism industry, the second-largest employer in the county, did see a half-percent drop in its overall hotel occupancy rate last year compared to 2013.

Of the 6.6 million people who visited the Niagara Falls area coming from within the United States last year, 3.6 million people were day trippers while the rest took overnight trips, according to research provided to the tourism organization by Longwoods International.

The total overnight spending of visitors, excluding those from Canada and other international guests, was about $561 million, while the spending by day travelers was roughly $266 million, according to research cited by the agency.

The number of visitors who came into the official visitors center on Rainbow Boulevard in the Falls was up 5 percent last year, with nearly 41,000 visitors from 65 countries seeking information at the facility.

In addition to that annual information from last year, Percy also revealed visitation at the center is up 89 percent this month and is up 52 percent overall so far this year.

Percy also touted what he said were the success of various marketing campaigns, including last summer’s campaign, which drew an additional $24.5 million in visitor spending to the region, according to research by Destination Analysts.

Looking ahead, Percy pointed to recently completed and ongoing hotel and attraction projects, including the Rainforest Café on Old Falls Street, as evidence the tourism industry here is getting stronger.

“I think our future is solidly bright,” he said.