Niagara Falls Mayor Robert M. Restaino said Sunday that the COVID-19 outbreak will have a major impact on tourism, regarded as the largest single component of his city's economy.
He said Niagara Falls, which has long focused its U.S. marketing efforts on potential visitors who are within driving distance, is concentrating on that market even more this year.
"The tourist industry itself is working now more on domestic travel," Restaino said. He noted that the restrictions placed on international travel in recent days will inevitably cut down on the number of foreign visitors to Niagara Falls.
That's why the domestic emphasis is so important.
"I don't know about making up (for the international shortfall), but certainly trying to target another population to focus on, to maintain a healthy tourist season," Restaino said. "We know there will be some impacts."
Meanwhile, one of the city's major attractions announced a temporary closure Sunday because of the virus outbreak.
The Aquarium of Niagara closed at 5 p.m. Sunday and will stay shut until March 28. All programs and activities at the Aquarium until then are canceled.
"As a destination for our community, schoolchildren and tourists, we have a responsibility to do our part to protect the public’s heath for both our visitors and our staff,” said Gary K. Siddall, the Aquarium's executive director. “We look forward to welcoming everyone back to the Aquarium soon to continue our mission of inspiring visitors to make a difference for aquatic life.”
During the closure, staffers regarded as essential to the care of the marine animals at the Whirlpool Street facility will continue to come to work. All other employees will work from home.
The animals are not vulnerable to COVID-19, the Aquarium said, citing information from the Centers for Disease Control.