Nine months ago, I and an associate set out on a mission. We were two residents of the 80 mile wide Niagara (River) Region.We advocated for travel, tourism, trade and development on both sides of the river in the name of Bi-National Cooperation. We believe that there is tremendous potential for shared success and growth between the long time, 200 years, peaceful USA and Canadian neighbors along the Niagara River. We visited business people, tourism people, government people, hotel people, and transportation people. We met with over forty influential people and groups on both sides of the river. We attended development and business forums. And in the process, we also found a number of people were not willing to speak with lowly, non-moneyed, non-connected citizens.
Talking with people you find they do want change, want action, want development, want jobs, want international stature but they want YOU to do it for them. For every single complaint and followup request to assist us, you hear ”I don’t have time,” “I’m not political,” “Nothing will change,” etc. I personally find this rather disheartening.
Check out the Niagara Region expats in the Sun Belt states, where they hide in their air-conditioned homes throughout their unbearably hot summers or run away up here to escape. They are more than happy to promote their new abodes to anyone and everyone who will listen while up here on their 4 month summer hiatus from tropical heat. We, one the other hand, hide in heated homes during our rarely below 10 degree winter weather travel down south and join in if not even start daily rounds of bashing the community instead of trying to improve it or promote our considerable attributes.
I’m not a geneticist or physician, but, there must be some type of genetically developed negativity gene that is embedded in this area.
When we got started, our first thought was - we shared one of the world’s great geographic and geological treasures. We also have historic sites, wineries, Niagara Falls, water activities, culture, architecture, sporting events, and museums to go along with it. A community effort to promote the area would certainly make absolute sense to everyone. It appears we were wrong and our airports tell the story about where you can finds our heads.
The area has two airports, Niagara Falls International and Buffalo International. Niagara’s airport has an 11,000ft main runway. Any aircraft that can fly today has the ability to land there without trouble. Buffalo’s main runway is smaller at 8800ft. So it would make sense to develop long range tourism into Niagara and domestic tourism via Buffalo each feeding the Niagara Region. What do we end up getting? Dozens of flights to New York City and Florida taking American and Canadian locals to those areas while we make no effort to attract them and their tourist dollars to our locale. That is pretty darn sad when you consider there are people in NYC will to pay upwards of $480 for a ONE DAY day drive by visit to the Falls only – Click here.
I really wonder what the game plan is for the various Chambers of Commerce, Developmental Agencies, Buffalo-Niagara Enterprise, etc. They don’t target any markets for featured travel packages. You can’t go online and buy a 3-4-5-6-7 day tour package for the area. And you won’t see a “Visit US” add anywhere in anyone’s media. What is the problem? If your don’t promote, they won’t come. Advertising works. The proof is in the pudding. Just check all the travel packages promotions that you see on television or read in the newspapers for Disney World, Universal Studios, Las Vegas, Texas, etc.
I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that the residents of those areas speak nothing but praises for their communities because they know if you come, you will spend money, they will have jobs and money (your money), to spend.
There really needs to be a community effort. If the citizens started putting pressure on their elected officials, they will put pressure on their business associates, and maybe, just maybe, we will see some meaningful development.