Published on : Monday, March 23, 2020
In a community like Niagara County — where so much of the local economy is dependent on visitor’s money like Niagara Falls — at present it appears the promise of a robust tourism season has disappeared totally.
“The first loss of business here is international,” said John Percy, the president and CEO of the county’s lead tourism agency, Destination Niagara USA. “We saw that coming even in the last few months where Chinese business dropped off significantly. And now, it’s completely gone.”
The current situation for everyone has made the world a new place.
For everything related to tourism, it’s a closed world as of now. Flights have ended. Trips have been cancelled.
On March 17th, one of the major attractions in downtown Niagara Falls, Seneca Niagara Resorts and Casinos have declared a two-week close down to permit sanitizing as well as cleaning of the hotel and casinos.
Previous to this week, President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have declared plans to prohibit all “non-essential” travel at the border between the two.
The annual first run of the Maid of the Mist boats — conventionally a sign of the onset of spring in Niagara remains temporarily cancelled amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.
“The decision as to when to open the Maid of the Mist season is being made in close consultation with New York State Parks,” said spokesperson Kevin Keenan. “The safety of our associates and guests will take precedence as we determine when to start the 2020 season.”
Frank Strangio, the owner of the Wyngate Hotel, the Quality Inn and Antonio’s Banquet & Conference Center, stated that his business has by now been affected majorly. He said he’s uncertain of the long-term impacts. He said he could foresee that in 2020, about 50 to 75 percent of confirmed guests canceling their stays in the Niagara region this year.
“Nobody knows for sure,” Strangio said when asked about what the future may hold.
“Everything will rely on the guidance of federal and state levels of government. If they are advising for people not to travel, they won’t travel. When they start to loosen those reigns then I think people will come back to traveling. We’ve gone through this before with SARS, swine flu and even 9/11, although to a different extent. It’s never been to this magnitude, but we always stay optimistic that things will recover. But, in the short term, it’s going to be tough.”