Niagara Gazette — In the wake of the global media coverage of Nik Wallenda's walk, area tourism operators are hopeful that the Independence Day influx and the rest of the month may set yet another record for Niagara Falls.
The Wallenda impact still is being measured but one early survey — conducted by the Niagara University College of Hospitality and Tourism Management —showed the economic impact of the Wallenda performance was $3.3 million was the three-day period starting June 15. The survey also disclosed that the event attracted 38,000 people to the destination for one day.
John Percy, president and chief executive officer of the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp., said that in the two weeks after the Wallenda walk, the NTCC has experienced a 30 percent increase in bookings, including hotel reservations, tour packages and attractions. A similar increase was reflected on the NTCC's web site.
The Fourth of July holiday — this year on Wednesday — is generally viewed as the busiest period of the 100-day tourist season, which runs from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day. Meanwhile, on the Ontario side of the river, Canada Day (July 1) will be celebrated Monday.
That Independence Day falls in mid-week does not seem to be any deterrent, according to many tourist industry people, because the overall season is already off to an impressive start.
"We'll just count on two strong weekends," said Bill Torchia, who is the retail sales director for Gray Line of Niagara Falls & Buffalo. Traditionally, this entire month is regarded as prime travel time for millions of Americans and area hoteliers are confident that all the recent publicity for the falls — with the focus on Wallenda — will help even more.
"We've had a real busy season so far," said Mark Thomas, regional director for the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation. Even before Wallenda's June 15 walk across the Niagara Gorge and over the Horseshoe Falls, there were clear signs of renewed excitement within the Niagara Falls State Parks and for its attractions.