Niagara Gazette

Tourism

June 27, 2006

Casino money puts NTCC’s eyes on the future

With $2 million due to the agency, new president sees longer-term campaigns, possibly more staff in future

With its $2 million share of the last two years’ casino cash revenues just a signature away, John Percy and the rest of the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp. staff are ready to start thinking ahead.

Rather than fitting in what trade shows, advertising campaigns and promotional efforts they can fit into a roughly $1.5 million budget with an uncertain future, the NTCC’s new president said the agency is looking to bring back a successful campaign and keep it alive years into the future.

“We’re in the position now where we can get a consistent, repetitive message out to people, as Orlando or Vegas has been able to do so successfully,” Percy said. “We’ve still been able to keep up a general awareness, but without a repetitive presence of three years or more, we haven’t been able to make our real impact.”

Along with expanding the “Great American Getaway” campaign into television and international markets, the funds could also enable staff additions and greater outreach to tourism operators.

Under a deal agreed to Thursday by Gov. George Pataki’s office and leaders in the state Assembly and Senate, $2 million of a total $23.9 million in slot machine revenue from the Seneca Niagara Casino will go to the NTCC. The less than four-year-old agency received $1 million in slots revenue during its first year of operation in 2003, but has not received any since.

Uncertainty over funding caused its first president, David Rosenwasser, to leave for a job in Missouri earlier this month. Percy, a former vice president of sales and marketing, had been ready to take a position with the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls in late March, before he agreed to take a consolidated position of president and CEO, effectively eliminating his old job.

If Pataki signs off on the two-year deal, along with an agreement to hold the revenue shares in place for the next 11 years, the NTCC’s first move will likely be to pay back last year’s loan of $550,000 and interest to the city of Niagara Falls, which loaned the money out of a transportation fund.

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