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If Indians are coming to the Falls in waves, is more marketing needed?

   There is no doubt in the eyes of those on the ground in Niagara Falls that the famous falls have become a popular attraction for travelers from India.

   A story in today's Buffalo News takes a look at how the spending power and travel patterns of visitors from India have changed in recent years.

   But what is in question is whether a publicly funded agency, Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp., should spend money to send its staff to India twice in about a year to promote Niagara Falls USA.

   Niagara Falls restaurateur Paramjit Singh is from India and has taken notice of the influx of travelers from his homeland. He owns three restaurants, Punjabi Hut, the Twist of the Mist and Misty Dog on Niagara Street, and said he sees a steady stream of Indian visitors at his restaurants.

   Singh would like to see those public dollars spent on cleaning up downtown Niagara Falls rather than marketing the region directly to India.

   One of the problems, says Niagara Falls Councilman Sam Fruscione, is that NTCC has kept the details of its annual budget a secret and won't release receipts for its travel.

   The countywide tourism marketing and promotion agency is funded primarily through hotel occupancy taxes and local casino revenue.

   In an attempt to be more transparent -- and under pressure from Niagara Falls leaders -- NTCC president and chief executive John Percy sent the city a copy of its two-page, 2009 budget earlier this month.

   Percy contends a five-day promotional trip he and another staff member took to India last month was necessary to encourage India-based tour operators to offer packages with longer stays in Niagara Falls.

   Fruscione, who is running for re-election and has made NTCC spending a campaign issue, wants more information about NTCC's travel and its annual budget.

   How would you like to see Niagara Falls marketed?

- Denise Jewell Gee

tagged

business | Niagara Falls | tourism
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