By John Kinney
Niagara Gazette — Since the opening of Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours in 1992, our organization has travelled the globe in an effort to establish ourselves as a world-class attraction which is fortunate enough to operate in a world-class destination. However, in the "ultra-competitive" world of tourism, every tourism entity in every town or city that provides tourism opportunities is trying to do the exact same thing. Therefore, it is extremely important to have as many coordinated voices singing the virtues of your destination as possible.
In the early 1990s, Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours operated solely from the Canadian side of the Niagara River. During this time, we attended many tourism trade shows, tour operator sales missions, AAA marketplaces and countless other meetings with tour planners and re-sellers. The representatives of the Niagara Falls, NY CVB (as it was called at that time) promoted Niagara Falls, N.Y., at a time when the stock of attractions, venues and lodging facilities was relatively bare especially when compared to Niagara Falls, Ont.
Fast forward to today and you can see new life beginning to emerge in Niagara Falls, N.Y., tourism. Companies such as Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours have been investing in Niagara USA for some time now. The product offerings, quality of facilities, and guest service and amenities are truly competitive on a global scale. While there is still a way to go to catching up with Niagara Falls, Ont., significant progress is being made.
Without a strong destination marketing organization, businesses like mine who are responsible to manage finite amounts of working capital, would never have continued to invest in Niagara USA. When Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours opened its US operation in 1997, US operations represented 3 percent of our business. Today, Niagara USA is 50 percent of our revenues. This would have not occurred without the tireless and committed management and staff of the Niagara Tourism & Convention Corp.
I am often frustrated by the public comments of some in the community about the NTCC. While I certainly understand and acknowledge all publicly funded organizations must have oversight of its expenditures, many of the reports and assertions about NTCC expenditures are grossly unfair. Promoting tourism is all about developing a confidence between the visiting public and the tourism operators who manage the accommodations, attractions, and other forms of entertainment within a destination. Every destination in the world thinks that their destination is better, more interesting and a better value than its competition. Therefore, somebody has to be constantly telling that same traveling public why Niagara USA is able to exceed the expectations of today’s highly sophisticated traveler.
The NTCC has been essential in this role in putting Niagara USA tourism on a track which allows businesses like WJBT to attract visitors from every continent to our corner of the world. The agency is indispensable to the success of our operations here and look forward to continued growth and success now and in the future.John Kinney is the president of Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours.