Global Tourism Institute proposed for Niagara Falls
A tourism mecca at the edge of one of the world?s most famous natural attractions.
That?s the idea behind Niagara University?s plans to establish a center for high-tech innovation in the tourism in downtown Niagara Falls.
Called the Niagara Global Tourism Institute, it would be the second institution of higher learning to set up shop downtown, after Niagara County Community College opened its highly successful Niagara Falls Culinary Institute last fall on Old Falls Street.
Niagara University envisions the tourism institute would be both a learning space for students in the school?s existing college of hospitality and tourism as well as a center where cutting-edge innovations in tourism are developed to help market and develop Niagara Falls.
Given existing regional assets and proposed developments, the university wants to ?provide a continuum of support for the development of tourism as a major driver of the economy of Western New York,? said Bonnie Rose, Niagara?s vice president of academic affairs.
?What the Niagara Global Tourism Institute is really all about is providing a unique resource that is suited to the tourism sector in the Buffalo Niagara region,? Rose said, ?and that really will provide catalysts, information and human resource development to help the industry, or the sector, to deliver on the economic contributions that we should see from that sector.?
The first phase of the project is a $415,000 effort.
The Western New York Power Proceeds Allocation Board in November recommended the project receive a $250,000 grant from the New York Power Authority.
The university, which has committed the balance of the funding to make the first phase happen, is talking with the city and USA Niagara Development Corp., the state?s economic development arm in the Falls, about potential space for the institute, Rose said.
The institute will be led by Eddie Friel, a tourism professor and expert-in-residence at Niagara.
One of the first sets of research of the institute will be to ?map out the assets that we have? in Niagara Falls and its surrounding area to help Niagara Falls compete better with its Canadian counterpart, Rose said, including attractions, gaming centers and major hotels.
?Just drawing that data together, it provides a solid foundation for future planning,? she said, ?because in today?s world, our competitors ? we do have to compete with the world when we want to bring people to Niagara Falls ? whether in Cleveland or China, help people put together packages that are unique to their interests.?
The institute will also focus on being a source in the high-tech industry developing around tourism, Rose said.
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