NIAGARA FALLS – A not-for-profit group of governmental and private-sector players, aimed at stepping up marketing of Niagara Falls International Airport, is to get off the ground early this year.
“We’re shooting for [a budget of] $1 million,” said State Sen. George D. Maziarz, R-Newfane.
The Niagara Falls International Airport Stakeholders Group is expected to include representation – and financial aid – from Niagara County, the City of Niagara Falls, the county Industrial Development Agency, Niagara USA Chamber, the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp., the Seneca Niagara Casino&Hotel, Fashion Outlets Mall and the Niagara Falls Hotel-Motel Association, among others.
Niagara Falls kicked in $50,000, with Mayor Paul A. Dyster saying he thought the city would be matching an equal contribution from the county.
However, a Nov. 1 County Legislature resolution appropriated only $7,500.
But County Economic Development Commissioner Samuel M. Ferraro said his team will be providing all of the organization’s staff work. In effect, the county Economic Development Department will be in charge of marketing the airport.
“You have to consider the staff time as an in-kind contribution,” Ferraro said. “That has monetary value.”
The airport is owned by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority. NFTA spokesman C. Douglas Hartmayer said the authority budgeted $225,000 this year and the same amount next year for marketing the Niagara Falls facility.
“The financial constraints we have, we’ve done as much as we can, but you can always do more,” said Henry M. Sloma, chairman of the NFTA board of commissioners. “It was an initiative from Sen. Maziarz. He’s leading the charge on this. We welcome that kind of support.”
“This is going to be, for the most part, nongovernmental money,” Maziarz said. “The Fashion Outlet Mall has been participating. The Senecas have been very good.”
He said he feels the NFTA hasn’t been doing enough to market the airport, but it’s cashing in on the increasing service there.
Hartmayer said the NFTA’s newly adopted 2012-13 budget includes $1.6 million in parking revenue from the Niagara Falls airport, at $5 a day or $25 a week.
As service to warm-weather cities from several airlines grows at the Falls, the number of passengers flying from its airport has jumped.
Hartmayer said that in the first 11 months of 2011, 87,942 outbound passengers boarded flights in Niagara Falls, a 190 percent increase from the same period in 2010.
Dyster said he thinks it’s the NFTA’s job to recruit more airlines and get the ones already using the airport to add flights. But acting on business leads and creating promotions to bring in passengers from out of town falls on the stakeholders.
Maziarz said one idea is to reverse the flow of golfers that goes from Niagara Falls to Myrtle Beach, S. C., in the winter by luring duffers to the Senecas’ Hickory Stick Golf Course in Lewiston during the summer.
“Golfing down there is very limited in July and August because it’s so hot,” Maziarz said. “In July and August they could fly up here. You can golf at a Robert Trent Jones golf course, stay at a five-star hotel and shop till you drop at the outlet mall.”
Source: NEWS NIAGARA REPORTER