Published on : Monday, March 16, 2020
The novel Coronavirus (COVID 19) has cost the local tourism economy millions in lost revenues from the events, hotels, restaurants, and more. Fifteen events, ranging from sports tournaments to convention shows or exhibitions in the Buffalo Niagara region have all been cancelled or postponed in the wake of the COVID virus that continues to spread throughout the world. The tourism officials in Buffalo expect the impact to cost the local economy $7.8 million.
Visit Buffalo Niagara President said that it is really in the next month or less than these events are taking place.
Visit Buffalo Niagara is now working with those organizations to find backup dates, if possible. However, many events cannot be scheduled until the fall or next year.
Typically December, January, and February are Buffalo’s lower months. They see an up-tick into our high summer seasons starting in April. Depending on how long this plays out, this will have a big impact on our overall tourism economy. It’s not just filling the hotels and beds. It’s their employment base. They have over 32,000 people who are employed in the tourism industry.
Destination Niagara USA President and CEO John Percy said the impact has been less noticable in Niagara Falls because they’re not much of a business-centric destination as Buffalo, but they have seen an impact on tourism. Percy said that being in a slower season is good for them because they are not in the high season.
Percy said the coronavirus pandemic is comparable to the spread of SARS or bird flu but noted it’s different because of the number of unknown related to the virus. He pointed at history more than ten years ago to reference one thing he expects to see: lower rates related to tourism.
The health and government officials have encouraged organizations to postpone or cancel events in the wake of coronavirus for public safety reasons. Because of this, Kaler’s hands are tied but he said their focus is about the health and safety of those visiting the area. Kaler said he expects more cancellations, which will only have a further impact on the local economy.