Hospitality study shows 3-year climb in visitors to WNY

Local hotels and attractions are reporting increases in the number of visitors – a trend they expect to continue.
A recently completed survey of the hospitality and tourism industry by Longwoods International found that in the past three years, the average number of U.S. visitors who came to Western New York increased by at least 100,000 annually.

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Last year, the survey found, 5.3 million Americans visited the region and the economic impact was $493 million. Along with the 3.1 million Canadians who visited last year – and spent $933 million – that means this area welcomed 8.4 million North American visitors who spent $1.42 billion.

The figure does not include visitors from Europe, Asia or other continents. The study focused on leisure travelers, not corporate trips.

Such studies give Visit Buffalo Niagara its most detailed information about who visits the region and what attracts them.

'It's probably the best data we ever had,' said Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, president and CEO. 'It gives me some good information but also pinpoints what we need to do to keep the increases going.'

Visitors come for a number of reasons, including shopping and to see the deep collection of architectural and historic landmarks.

The Longwoods study of Canadian visitors found that shopping was their primary reason for crossing the Niagara River. Some 1.9 million Canadians – mostly from Southern Ontario – made one-day shopping trips here and 1.2 million stayed over at least one night.

The average overnight stay by Canadians was 2.3 days.

Gallagher-Cohen attributed the spike in North American visitors to aggressive marketing efforts by her staff, who work to generate coverage in national media and social media sites.