Hornblower’s lawsuit will hurt Falls tourism

As a private sector professional engaged in tourism promotion of Buffalo Niagara, New York State and Southern Ontario, I was disheartened to learn of the recent lawsuit launched by Hornblower Cruises. The suit challenges the governor’s decision to invest in infrastructure improvements on state park land to enable the Maid of the Mist to continue operations on the American side of Niagara Falls.

I regularly attend national travel trade shows to market not only the Made in America Store, where I am director of business development, but other attractions in Buffalo Niagara. Earlier this year, national and international tour operators attending these shows were so happy to hear of the capital improvements planned for Niagara Falls Reservation State Park. They eagerly booked future trips.

New York’s strategic investments will enable tour operators to bring something “new” to their customers, translating into spin-off business for the regional hotel and restaurant industry, wine and culinary experiences, our diverse heritage and cultural sites, and retail establishments. Increased tax revenues for local and state governments will accrue from the millions of visitors who will visit the attraction that Travel and Leisure magazine has ranked the No. 5 Top World Attraction.

The Maid of the Mist is one of the reasons visitors cite when planning a trip. It is a family-friendly attraction with an affordable price. The international border between our two great nations can easily accommodate both “brands” of sightseeing boats. There is a market for both – the luxury cruises on the Canadian side planned by Hornblower and the iconic Maid of the Mist boat tours on the American side that have delighted young and old, royalty and regular folks, for more than a century.

In the tourism business, more is more. Our binational region is competing with other world-class destinations in the United States, Canada and abroad. Domestic and international tour operators and their customers desire a diverse choice of attractions at their destinations of choice. If this lawsuit continues, the acrimony and bad publicity may negatively impact tourism on both sides of the border.

Dorothy Furtney