A group of top leaders in the Buffalo Niagara business, education and tourism industries came out Monday in support of the Maid of the Mist as it struggles to keep its Niagara Falls tour boat operations afloat.

Nine executives sent a letter to State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli urging him to “join us in ensuring the continuity of service” of the Maid after a lawsuit was filed by the company’s Canadian competitor.

“The Maid of the Mist is one of the oldest tourist attractions in North America, one of the oldest in Western New York and is a linchpin in the all-important local tourism industry,” the letter stated. “Locally owned, the Maid of the Mist provides local jobs and has a significant impact on the operations of many businesses in and around Niagara Falls.”

The letter was signed by leaders including Andrew J. Rudnick, president of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership; John Percy, president of the Niagara Tourism & Convention Corp.; the Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, president of Niagara University; Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster; Deanna Alterio Brennen, president of the Niagara USA Chamber of Commerce; Ryan P. Coate, general manager of the Conference Center Niagara Falls; Christopher Stoianoff of the Downtown Niagara Falls Business Association; Robert Emerson, executive director of Old Fort Niagara; and Colleen C. DiPirro, president of the Amherst Chamber of Commerce.

The suit filed by Hornblower Cruises, which will run the world-famous boat tours on the Canadian side beginning next year.

Hornblower executives argued that they should have had the right to bid on construction of a new dock that will allow the Maid to keep its popular tours in business on the American side. State officials said no bid was needed for the $30 million project because a previous contract with the Maid currently exists.

A new preservation group has also called for an investigation into the matter by the state attorney general or the state comptroller, on historic preservation and environmental grounds involving the dock site.

Maid officials will pursue the storage project despite the suit.