Village of Lewiston receives proposal for attraction, will view demonstration before making any decision
By Joshua Maloni
A regional tourism company is looking to add a new attraction along the Niagara River.
Gray Line Niagara Falls/Buffalo has presented the Village of Lewiston with a proposal for amphibious tours.
In written correspondence, the year-round Niagara Falls/Buffalo-based receptive tour operator stated, “We are proposing a combined land and water tour of the area. An amphibious adventure that would introduce the highlights of Niagara Falls and Lewiston from the seats of a best-in-class amphibious vehicle. With over 70 units operating worldwide – we would not propose any vehicle other than the Hydra-Terra (HT) for the region.”
Trustees have not yet formally addressed this plan. They will first meet with a Gray Line representative at the Lewiston Landing docks to ascertain navigational and docking logistics.
Mayor Anne Welch said the board is concerned about the vessel’s ability to get in and out of the main launch area. That said, if the routing winds up not being an issue, then, “Anything that brings people to Lewiston is a good thing.”
She added, “It's not a thrill ride, like the jet boat, but it gives people a chance to go out into the water, too. It’s like a bus – it's more like a bus than a boat.
“We'll just have to wait and see.”
The Gray Line proposal explained, “Our proposed tour would start at the One Niagara Welcome Center in Niagara Falls, where people will board the HT for a 60-90-minute tour. The HT would proceed along the Niagara River (and) enter the water at the Lewiston Landing docks. The water component of the tour will go upriver and head toward Youngstown for an approximate 20-minute loop, then returning to Lewiston Landing to exit the water portion of the tour resuming the tour by land.
“The entry into the water is the most anticipated part of the tour and often the most fun. The opportunity to tell the history of Lewiston NY and the formation of Niagara Falls while viewing it from the water and land is unique for tourists and locals.
“Following the exit from the water, the HT will continue with its land tour through some of our most beloved areas of Lewiston and Niagara Falls. Our proposed route includes picturesque views of the gorge while telling the story of how the beautiful escarpment was formed.
“This land/water tour gives visitors a good idea of what Lewiston has to offer, and our commentary will be designed to provide information about the key points of interest in the Village of Lewiston as well as Niagara Falls.”
The water-land tour would be conducted in a Hydra-Terra, a 17,000-pound vehicle that is 40 feet in length, 102 inches wide, and 11 feet, 6 inches tall. The Hydra-Terra has a 2007 Cummins ISC 8.3 engine, 250 square-feet of work deck space, and can accommodate 49 guests plus two crew members.
Moreover, Gray Line said a unique design makes the Hydra-Terra unsinkable.
It stated, “The Hydra-Terra amphibious is unique in that it retains a perfect safety record while in the water. Hydra-Terra amphibious vehicles possess the patented safety feature of being unsinkable thus making them unique. All of C.A.M.I's amphibious vehicles are UNSINKABLE due to a patented and patent pending use of positive floatation foam. The hull design also provides unprecedented stability in the water.
“C.A.M.I conforms to the stringent rules of the ABS, DOT, EU, MCA, NHTSA, SAE, USCG, and other marine and safety authorities.”
The Village of Lewiston Board of Trustees will ascertain how well the Gray Line Hydra-Terra gets in and out of the dock launch and surrounding waterways.
As it pertains to Lewiston, Gray Line has requested approval “to enter the water and exit at the Lewiston docks as part of this new and exciting experience.”
It stated, “We are aware that this is a very popular place, especially in good weather as members of the public are launching their boats.
“If the town is able to approve the concept for this tour, Gray Line Niagara Falls/Buffalo will meet with the representatives for the boat launch to discuss the logistics of our vehicle entering and exiting the waterfront.
“A safe, easy and convenient loading area in Niagara Falls would start the tour.”
The company acknowledged, “The main challenge is community support for this vehicle to operate within the city. In the past, the vessels put forward have been former military vehicles that were never designed for tour use or to frequent city streets. The vehicle we are proposing is a purpose-built unit that is currently used in more than 22 countries. Furthermore, it is unsinkable, visually appealing, and suitable for use on city streets and protected waters and is comfortable for guests.”
Gray Line is the dba of Niagara Majestic Tours. The company claims to be “the largest operator of Niagara Falls USA tours,” and “the largest operator of traveler assistance and tourist information centers and provider of hotel concierge services in the region with 32 permanent and 70 seasonal team members.”
It stated, “At Gray Line Niagara Falls/Buffalo, we love our city and the surrounding areas, and at the end of each tour we know that we've been able to share something special in our community.
“It is with that same excitement that we bring internationally proven approaches to delivering the best of Niagara Falls and Lewiston to local families and visitors. There are still many new opportunities to highlight the area and broaden the scope of the tourism sector, employing more people, and drawing in more visitors and local families.
“Lewiston continues to grow, and Gray Line Niagara Falls/Buffalo would like to help further diversify the options to those who have come to explore our area and beyond.”
Gray Line noted, “amphibious vehicles have evolved into purpose-built, modern vessels designed to deliver safety, fun and comfort around the world.”
The document stated amphibious tours are currently offered in locations including California, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Grand Cayman Island, and Halifax, Nova Scotia. Listed retail rates range from $33.75 to $49.99 per person.
NFP tried to contact Gray Line for further comment, but was unsuccessful as of press time.