With continued growth & investment, $35 million impact projected to double over next 3 years
Elected, cultural and tourism leaders from the Greater Niagara Region on Monday unveiled the results of a comprehensive rider survey and economic study detailing the Discover Niagara Shuttle's impact on the local economy.
Sara Capen, executive director of the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area, which oversees shuttle operations, said, "The significance of this project to our region in extending the stay for visitors and generating economic impact for our community cannot be understated. The shuttle integrates local businesses and restaurants with our cultural and natural assets. In partnership and with long-term investment, tourism development initiatives like the shuttle will reap dividends for our economy and continue to unify our region."
Since 2011, the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area has been a catalyst to designing and developing tourism experiences that showcase Niagara's heritage. NFNHA said these attractions extend the stay for visitors and build pride within our local community.
Recently, the NFNHA, in partnership with local agencies and organizations, completed a two-year pilot program of the Discover Niagara Shuttle, which connected visitors and residents to 14 cultural attractions along the Niagara River corridor from the "Falls to the Fort." With nearly 70,000 riders in the pilot program, the shuttle generated significant economic impact within Niagara County.
Tripp Umbach, a nationally recognized consulting firm, conducted an independent study of the shuttle's economic impact in Niagara County. It found operation of the Discover Niagara Shuttle injected $35 million into the Niagara County economy during the 2016 season.
For the two-year pilot, the New York Power Authority has committed $500,000, while New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation provided $400,000, with an additional $100,000 from the New York State Legislature. The National Heritage Area and Destination Niagara USA (formerly the Niagara Tourism & Convention Corp.) each supplied $100,000. Niagara University provided $30,000. With increased partnerships, funding, and marketing, the study projects the Discover Niagara Shuttle will have a potential $70 million economic impact by 2020.
Furthermore, more than 50 percent of shuttle riders were influenced to visit the Niagara Falls region due to the presence of the Discover Niagara Shuttle, as indicated by an intercept survey of 310 riders this summer.
"Niagara Falls is an iconic tourism destination, known for its natural beauty and multitudes of visitors," Congressman Brian Higgins said. "It can also be the catalyst to a vibrant tourism economy where visitors experience the many natural, cultural, and historic assets Niagara County has to offer. Connecting visitors to these assets via the Discover Niagara Shuttle and further developing authentic experiences that highlight our heritage is an investment in our communities and a sustainable tourism economy."
Congressman Chris Collins said, "I am pleased to see that the results of the Discover Niagara Shuttle's pilot program are so positive. The shuttle is responsible for an impressive economic boost to the Niagara County economy, and the area's destinations are expected to see even more reward in the coming years. This public-private partnership promotes Niagara County's rich history and culture while enhancing the tourism economy in the region."
"The most difficult task for an individual or family when visiting a new destination is making sure that you are able to see the most important and unique aspects your destination has to offer," New York State Sen. Robert Ortt said. "The Discover Niagara Shuttle has taken the hassle of planning out of the equation. It has tied together all that the Greater Niagara Region has on display with one convenient route, and has stimulated an economic boom for our area's economy. The ease and comfort that the Discover Niagara Shuttle provides allows visitors to extend their stay in Niagara Falls and the Greater Niagara Region and experience the vast amount of culture and history in our part of the state. The easier we can assist our guests in finding what makes Niagara County so special, the better the result for all of the parties involved."
"Anyone who's visited Niagara Falls knows it stands alone as one of the most beautiful sites in the country," New York State Assemblyman Angelo Morinello said. "The Discover Niagara Shuttle offers visitors a chance to experience the gorgeous landscape of Niagara County in an unprecedented way. This shuttle has proven to be a remarkable investment in our community that offers endless benefits to both local residents and visitors. If we advance this shuttle service, it will surely continue to benefit the economy and drawing in tourists from all around the world."
Assemblyman Michael J. Norris said, "The positive impact of the Discover Niagara Shuttle has reached beyond Niagara Falls and into other parts of Niagara County, including Old Fort Niagara. I look forward the success and growth of this project and will work with my colleagues to ensure the continued support for this initiative."
"From Niagara Falls to Old Fort Niagara, the mission has been simple: Preserve, protect and promote," City of Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster said. "Over the course of the past two years, the Discover Niagara Shuttle has gone above and beyond that mission, connecting thousands with the historic, cultural and natural resources our region has to offer. Continued and longer-term investments into proven programming like the Discover Niagara Shuttle and visitor app will no doubt broaden the visitor experience and bolster our tourism economy for many years to come."
Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., president of Niagara University, said, "The Discover Niagara Shuttle is a critical component to our collaborative, ongoing enhancement of the tourism economy in Western New York - and Niagara County, in particular. Through the partnership that is embodied in the Discover Niagara Shuttle, we are re-establishing the Niagara Region as a destination where visitors can be seamlessly connected to our bountiful natural attractions, educational, historic and cultural sites, as well as our emerging and dynamic hospitality infrastructure. Establishing this bastion of hospitality to our guests will assuredly make a lasting and measurable economic and social impact in our communities."
"The New York Power Authority is proud to partner with organizations like the federal Niagara Falls National Heritage Area that help bolster tourism and economic development in New York State," NYPA Board Chairman John Koelmel said. "When we embarked on the renovation of the Niagara Power Project's admission-free Power Vista in 2015, we planned additional enhancements to entice visitors to extend their stay. With the addition of easier access provided by the new Discover Niagara Shuttle, center attendance has increased and, indeed, more shuttle riders are staying in the area longer. Going forward, we are confident the shuttle will continue to inspire visitors to stay in town and visit all the fun attractions the Niagara area has to offer."
State Parks Western District Director Mark Thomas said, "New York State Parks is proudly a financial partner of this successful project that easily moves visitors throughout Niagara Falls and the Niagara Gorge area. This public transportation link has shown to deepen the visitor experience while extending the length of stay in this world class tourism destination."
Robert Emerson, executive director of Old Fort Niagara, said, "The Discover Niagara Shuttle provides our region with a competitive advantage over many alternate destinations. By taking the shuttle, the visitor can truly enjoy Niagara's natural, historical and cultural wonders without the hassle of driving. Amenities like the shuttle not only attract more visitors to the region, they also extend their stay and generate positive reviews, encouraging others to make the journey. Shuttle riders who visited Old Fort Niagara grew by 50 percent in 2017 and we are confident this trend will continue."
In addition to connecting people to places along the Niagara River corridor, the Discover Niagara Shuttle reduces congestion in downtown Niagara Falls, wear on roads, eliminates sources of pollution, create jobs and enhances local and regional economic viability.
The Discover Niagara Shuttle fleet is comprised of two trolleys and two smaller buses, which are ADA-compliant and equipped with bicycle racks and complimentary Wi-Fi. Riders can download the free "Discover Niagara" mobile app that shares the history and culture from "Falls to the Fort."
The shuttle stops at the following locations:
- Niagara USA Visitor Center
- 3rd and Old Falls streets
- Niagara Gorge Discovery Center
- Aquarium of Niagara
- Niagara Arts & Cultural Center
- Oakwood Cemetery
- Niagara Falls Train Station/Underground Railroad Heritage Center
- Whirlpool State Park
- Castellani Art Museum/Niagara University
- Niagara Power Project Power Vista
- Lewiston Center Street business district
- Lewiston Waterfront
Village of Youngstown
- Youngstown Village Center
- Old Fort Niagara
The Niagara Falls National Heritage Area is one of 49 National Heritage Areas in the U.S. Designated by Congress in 2008, its mission is to preserve, protect and promote the historic, natural and cultural resources of the area stretching from Niagara Falls to Old Fort Niagara in Youngstown. The Niagara Falls National Heritage Area Inc. is leading the coordination and contracting effort for the shuttle service and visitor app.
For more information, visit www.discoverniagara.org
or follow the Discover Niagara Shuttle on Twitter @niagarashuttle, and Facebook and Instagram @discoverniagarashuttle.