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Attracting tourists to Buffalo and Niagara Falls

    I spoke this week with Eddie Friel, an "expert-in-residence" at Niagara University's College of Hospitality & Tourism Management. A native of Northern Ireland, Friel came to the U.S. five years ago after helping transform Glasgow, Scotland, from a fading shipbuilding capital to a tourism hotbed.

   The result? More than 66,000 tourism jobs created since 1983, Friel said, and an industry that employs twice as many tourism workers as it once did shipbuilders.

   When he settled in Western New York, Friel was amazed at Buffalo's architecture and Niagara Falls' beauty. But he said both cities can do much more to showcase their treasures. Below (and in the video above) are some comments about Friel's thoughts on Buffalo.

   Friel on Buffalo's changing image:  "Over the past five years, I have noticed a gradual building of self-confidence. And this [National Trust for Historic Preservation] Conference acted as a catalyst to bring everyone together, to allow the community in Buffalo to recognize, actually, we do have a magnificent city. It is significant in architectural terms, nationally and internationally, and that is something that we need to celebrate. And the community in Buffalo responded mangificently to it. That didnt happen five years ago, so there is a change."

   Friel on where Buffalo should be in five years: "Buffalo needs to be a major urban destination, as one of top 10 cities in the U.S. for creative industries, for innovation and design. Cities are going to become much more important places to live work and play, and we need to create livable cities and livable communities. That's Buffalo's challenge, and it's ideally placed to do so, because it has so much available within the city requiring development."

   For Friel's thoughts on what the Niagara Falls needs to do to keep the 8 million tourists who visit each year -- and to learn about President Obama's new tourism plan -- read Sunday's Niagara Weekend story in The Buffalo News.

   - News Staff Reporter Charlie Specht

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