The Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp., along with local business and civic leaders as well as tourism stakeholders, officially rolled out the red carpet to welcome visitors to the new $2.4 million Niagara USA Official Visitor Center. Located on the roundabout at Rainbow Boulevard and First Street, the center will function to promote attractions and events taking place throughout Niagara County as well as assist visitors with lodging and dining options.
"This is an important day for Niagara USA tourism as for far too long, our destination lacked a permanent and centrally located visitor center to welcome tourists to our region," said Frank Strangio, chairman of the NTCC board of directors. "The new facility will serve as a hub for all of Niagara County, as guests to our region will have the opportunity to learn more about all of the great attractions, venues and events or make hotel and dinner reservations."
The Niagara USA Visitor Center is the first new building constructed in the downtown Niagara Falls corridor since 2006. Open seven days a week, five full- and part-time employees staff the visitor center. The facility is open June 1 through Sept. 15 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sept. 16 through May 31 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Once inside, visitors find displays highlighting the four distinct regions of Niagara County - falls, river, lake and canal - as well as exhibits centered around the themes of arts and culture, history and heritage, fishing and outdoors, agri-tourism and the Seaway Trail. Flat-screen televisions showcase visuals of Niagara USA, and newly developed brochure racks provide visitors with information and maps.
"Being in such a highly visible location is a great benefit to visitors to our region as it allows us to better serve our guests by marketing and promoting all that Niagara USA has to offer," said John Percy, president and CEO of the NTCC. "This new development and construction right in the downtown corridor is the result of the generous support from our public sector partners, and it provides our region with a solid foundation to grow and enhance the tourism industry."
The NTCC was the recipient of a $1,044,000 grant from the Federal Transportation Enhancement Program, administered by the New York State Department of Transportation. The application for the grant was sponsored by USA Niagara Development Corp., which committed a portion of NTCC's required non-federal matching funds for the project.
"It's a pleasure to have been able to help NTCC secure over $1 million in federal funding and develop this wonderful new addition to downtown Niagara Falls," said USA Niagara Development Corp. President Christopher Schoepflin. "Not only is it an attractive complement to the city's urban landscape, it represents a great new means to promote all we have to offer in Niagara to our millions of annual visitors. This is an absolutely vital component for continued growth and success in our tourism industry here."
Other funding was provided by Empire State Development Corp., State Sens. George Maziarz and Antoine Thompson, and State Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte. The 8,400-square-foot center was designed by Foit-Albert Associates and built by Sicoli Construction.
The mission of the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp. is to expand the economic prosperity of the Niagara USA communities by generating individual and group visitation.
For more information, visit the NTCC Web site.