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Legislature May Only Renew Tourism Deal for 1 Year

11:01 PM, Jun 17, 2013   |    comments
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When you think of tourist attractions in Niagara County, Niagara Falls comes to mind. But some county leaders are saying not enough is being done to promote the area's other attractions.

Tuesday night, Niagara County legislators will decide whether to approve a one year contract extension for the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation, or NTCC, instead of a 15 year contract as discussed earlier this year.

"I think that the NTCC can do a better job. I mean, Lockport has a lot of great attractions," says Niagara County legislator Rick Updegrove.

The NTCC is the non-profit responsible for bringing tourism dollars to the county. Its contract expired earlier this year.

Updegrove is proposing a one year contract extension.

John Percy runs the NTCC, which is funded by the bed tax charged at Niagara County hotels.

"When did you find out about the year contract extension and what was your reaction to that?" asked Kelly Dudzik.

"As everyone else received that press release last Tuesday evening, that's when I found out," says Percy.

A press release sent out by Updegrove last week claims that Lockport is not getting enough promotion out of the bed tax dollars it contributes.

"Those concerns include a lack of quantified and verifiable results, insufficient interaction between the City of Lockport and the NTCC, excessive personnel costs, and a lack of transparency," says Updegrove.

"I think we are very transparent. I also report to my Board of Directors, and if they felt I was not doing my job, and they're part of that board, then I should be made aware of that," says Percy.

The NTCC provided us with numbers showing that the total bed tax revenue collected in the county jumped from almost $620,000 in 2003 to nearly $2.2 million in 2012.

Over the same time period in Lockport, revenue went from almost $73,000 to more than $126,000.

Percy says the revenue went up despite the number of hotel rooms staying flat.

Earlier this year, Percy proposed a new 15 year contract with the option to renew every three years, but he says those contract talks stopped at some point, and he does not know why.

"With anything, communication is key, and let's start having that communication and we're willing to come to the table and have, again, that dialogue," says Percy.

"Immediately, there should be improved communication between the NTCC and the City of Lockport. And, that's not something obviously that can be quantified. The mayor will know when that takes place," says Updegrove.

The City of Lockport does have a representative on the NTCC Board of Directors who has access to all of its records and activities.

There is a second proposal on the table Tuesday night for a ten year contract, which does not have as much support as the year-long extension.

The legislature could decide to take no action Tuesday night, or could reject both proposals, although that is unlikely.

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