December 11, 2009

Anderson & Fruscione Misguided

Two members of the Niagara Falls City Council have sponsored a resolution calling for the resignation of Niagara Tourism Convention Corporation President John Percy. The sponsors, Sam Fruscione and Bob Anderson, are irate that Percy hasn't given them the detailed reports that they have sought on the agency's expenditures. They're also perturbed that Percy hasn't done enough to hire more minority employees.

Percy has refused to disclose, among other pertinent information, the salaries of NTCC's employees, aside from his own, receipts or detailed expense reports for travel that has included overseas trips and how much private consultants are paid.

Now, we're no fan of Percy. He has used NTCC funds to take trips to Prague, Delhi, London, Mumbai, Milan, Berlin, Geneva and a host of other locations that he has not revealed. In addition, NTCC is spending $1 million to construct new offices in Niagara Falls - as if there aren't enough vacant buildings in the city to utilize. But Anderson and Fruscione are misguided in their blame of Percy for tourism failures in the city.

It is estimated that 13 million people visit Niagara Falls each year - it's a natural tourist destination. The failure or simple unwillingness of Fruscione and Anderson to see this is what is so disconcerting.

We don't need to be spending millions of taxpayer dollars each year to attract visitors to the the region - the city needs to be putting millions into improving the infrastructure of the city, demolishing the miles of decrepit buildings that line the city's streets, reducing the tax burden on businesses to attract private capital investment and working to advance some semblance of retail traffic in the heart of the city. None of this is happening, despite the fact that 13 million visitors come to Niagara Falls each year.

What they should be focusing on his how to turn the "day tripper" into the "overnight tripper". The economics of a visitor spending $60 a day versus $360 day should be simple enough for even Fruscione and Anderson to understand.

These two need to get their own house in order before they start blaming Percy for the tourism failures of the city. This smoke and mirrors garbage does nothing to divert attention from their own failures. Until they do, the city will continue to be scorned and ridiculed.

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