Niagara Falls, Ontario is more heavily developed with a carnival-like feel. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez/AP Photo/David Duprey, File)
A barrel of fun: Niagara Falls touts thrills in rebranding
March 17, 2017
For decades, thrill seekers at Niagara Falls have gone over the brink in barrels. Now the U.S. side of the falls wants to be the place the rest of us goes for outdoor adventure.
A marketing effort has been launched. The plan is to rebrand the New York state shore of the falls. Call it a natural playground. It should be explored on foot, bike and boat. Or even by helicopter.
U.S. tourism officials always are in competition with their Canadian counterparts. The Canadian side of Niagara Falls has been heavily developed. The Americans are taking a different path to marketing the area. Their new focus embraces the New York side's less commercial feel. They hope this will attract more visitors. They also hope the tourists will stay longer.
"What people are wanting...is a time of experience and not just to come and witness or see and hear." Visitors prefer to "actually experience and touch and feel and do," said John Percy. He is president and chief executive of Niagara Tourism & Convention Corp. It has been renamed Destination Niagara USA.
"Niagara Falls is the embodiment of America's adventurous spirit," he said.
The refocusing comes just in time for the busy season. It follows interviews, focus groups and visitor surveys. These found that those who visit and live in the region most value its scenic, historical and natural attributes. And they are drawn to outdoor adventure, officials said.
The findings align with support for the ongoing removal of a highway. It was built along the Niagara River. This will increase access to the water's edge. There also has been strong opposition to a proposal to build a lodge on rustic Goat Island. It is inside Niagara Falls State Park. Opponents of the lodge cite renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted's declaration. He made it more than 100 years ago. He said the area should be off limits to developers.
It's a marked contrast to Niagara Falls, Ontario. There, neon-lit museums, rides and restaurants offer a carnival-like atmosphere at the water's edge.
Niagara Falls State Park sees about 8 million visitors every year. They come from all over the world. It is a number that has been steadily rising, Percy said. In addition hotel visits and dollars spent are rising.
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