NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — Niagara Falls, New York boasts one of the most well-know natural attractions in the world.
Yet for decades, leaders have worried the city is not reaching its tourism potential.
"I think now there's a unified voice of where we want to head to and what we hope to see in the future for sustainability," said Roscoe Naguit, Niagara Global Tourism Institute assistant director.
The Niagara Global Tourism Institue released a study Monday looking at ways the city and region can improve the industry. It found the primary hurdles are not enough people come in the winter, and they don't stay long enough.
"The mentality has always been we shut her down for the winter and you can't build a sustainable industry or a sustainable economy being in business seven months of the year, so it's really about how do we keep introducing projects that extend the visitor's stay," Naguit said.
The report does recommend a number of big ideas, things like a partially indoor theme park, a new event center and a winter botanical gardens, but also smaller scale projects like more restaurants, nightlife and festivals.
"Typically when you're looking at a large-scale attraction, that takes years in the making, but if we're concentrating for right now, what we can see in the short term, if it's smaller attractions that can extend a stay by a couple hours, you get enough of those as a density, you're really adding days to a visit," Naguit said.
In speaking with stakeholders, the institute found people generally optimistic about the future of Niagara Falls tourism. In 2020, everything was down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but this year, even as the American government has continued to keep its border closed to Canadian and other international travelers, there has been a bounce back.
"Every time I get another report from the comptroller's office about how we're doing downtown and how we're doing generally in the city with regards to sales tax and occupancy and other things, the numbers are encouraging because we're actually challenging the high water mark of 2019," Mayor Robert Restaino said.
The institute sees the report as a jumping off point that leaders can use as they push for government funding. It recommended stakeholders including elected officials, local institutions and the Seneca Nation come together to outline a master vision next.