Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

November 27, 2012

OUR VIEW:

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Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — If Mayor Mike Tucker was trying to draw attention to Lockport with his recent criticism of the Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation, then consider his goal accomplished. If, however, he’s truly serious about moving toward a city-only marketing effort, he’d be wise to reconsider.

Tucker and other Lockport-based political observers believe that the city doesn’t get enough value — compared to Niagara Falls — for the nearly $85,000 in a city bed tax that’s turned over annually to the NTCC, which promotes Niagara County. Instead, he suggested the city would be better off on its own, adding that the NTCC would have to continue to promote Lockport because “that’s its job” as the county’s tourism promotion agency.

His recent pronouncement has certainly drawn attention. Buffalo television stations wanted to talk with him, and it was also a hot topic on talk radio. It also brought NTCC officials to Lockport not only to talk with Mayor Tucker, but also to attend a Lockport Business Association meeting, a very rare moment. would that have happened without Tucker’s bluster? Not bloody likely.

There is also a little truth to the idea that Lockport is treated as second class in the county. When was the last time there was a convention or major business meeting held here? Major events hosted by Niagara USA, the United Way and other groups routinely take place in Niagara Falls, mostly because there’s no place large enough in Lockport to host these events. Maybe there’s room in the plans for convention space in the proposed downtown ice arena?

Still, to completely dismiss the NTCC wouldn’t be prudent. For its $85,000 contribution, Lockport — packaged with the rest of Niagara County — in 2012 received media exposure in the Rochester, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio markets.

Where would Lockport advertise on its own on just $40,000, assuming the other $45,000 went to a marketing director? Elmira, Watertown, Scranton and Dayton, Ohio? Advertising on radio and television isn’t cheap. The collective amount spent by the NTCC to promote Niagara dwarfs what a Lockport-specific marketing strategy could achieve.

Plus, let’s be realistic. The number of hotel beds filled annually in Eastern Niagara County is a fraction of what’s filled in Niagara Falls. This region has the benefit of the world-famous cataract to draw tourists. The falls are the drawing card. If Lockport, the wine trail, North Tonawanda’s carrousel museum and other attractions must play second

fiddle, so be it.

We’re Reno; the Falls, Las Vegas. Both have their strong suits. Mayor Tucker’s ace in the hole of drawing attention to Lockport may pay off, but he’d better not overplay his hand.