By Patrick Kaler
Buzz about Buffalo’s resurgence is everywhere these days. Travel + Leisure Magazine named us America’s Favorite City in 2016. Frommers.com editor Jason Cochran noted that the city “finally knows how great it could be” after visiting here this summer, while Toronto Star editor Jennifer Bain explained that she is a “shameless fan” of our city. The New York Daily News described our destination as “being on the cusp of something big” and Monocle Magazine stated that we were “preparing to take flight once again.”
As we wrap up another peak visitor season here, it’s clear that this buzz is more than just hype; it’s also ushering in a new era for Buffalo as a premier visitor destination. Our revitalized waterfront, restored architecture, thriving arts scene, vibrant neighborhoods and influx of new hotels, craft breweries, distilleries and innovative restaurants are drawing tourists from near and far.
Scan the parking areas near signature attractions like the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Darwin Martin House and Canalside on any given day and you’ll frequently find out-of-state and Canadian license plates. Word is getting out about our destination’s rebirth, and tourists are taking notice.
This influx of new visitors is also boosting the local economy. Year-to-date revenue at Erie County hotels is already $2 million more than this time last year and $15 million higher than three years ago. Over 84 percent of all county hotel rooms were occupied in the month of July, nearly 10 percent higher than the national average. Even as new hotels have added hundreds of rooms into the market, demand has kept up and helped fill that supply.
Visit Buffalo Niagara is at the forefront of promoting Buffalo’s ongoing renaissance and sustaining this momentum. We’ve hosted nearly three dozen travel writers this year who have published stories about Buffalo in publications like the New York Times, USA Today and the Chicago Tribune.
Our print and digital marketing campaigns are telling the story of the new Buffalo to key markets in Southern Ontario, Pennsylvania, Ohio and upstate New York with an unprecedented impact, while our social media content reaches tens of thousands of Buffalo fans and followers on a daily basis. And our sales team continues to help attract sporting events and conventions to town that bring tens of millions of dollars to the community.
All of the Buffalo buzz is great, but even better is seeing it translate into real visitors, jobs and sales and bed tax revenues. With more attractions, hotels, breweries and restaurants in the pipeline, tourism is poised to make an even larger contribution to the local economy. Buffalo, we’ve only just begun.
Patrick Kaler is the president and CEO of Visit Buffalo Niagara.