Long-term lease signed, plans in place to return daily services
Oct 24, 2017 by Scott Rosts
A long-term lease has been signed, volunteers are being mobilized and efforts are underway to bring back daily service to the information kiosk at the Niagara Gateway Centre.
Brian Purdy, who has taken on the role of general manager, said there is still much work to be completed, but the biggest hurdle was signing the long-term lease for the space as part of a partnership between the Niagara West Tourism Association, Tourism Partnership of Niagara and Niagara Region. The lease is a five-year term at the rate of $12,000 a year — a significant savings from the previous five-year lease rate of $80,000 a year.
“This major budget discount item made it possible for this vital Niagara marketing facility to continue,” said Purdy, noting the $15,000 grant coming as part of the partnership with the region and the tourism partnership is also key. Now, he said, the centre, located on the South Service Road just off the QEW at Casablanca Boulevard, is looking at a wide variety of advertising opportunities to help bring in additional revenue to cover the operating costs.
The lease agreement ends a couple of years of work to get the space back up and running, with an aim at connecting visitors to Niagara with destinations in all 12 municipalities and what Purdy describes as “all four corners of Niagara.”
“There is an incredible opportunity here,” said Purdy. “This is about promoting Niagara and all of the incredible things we have to offer.”
The kiosk has been manned most weekends since May, and despite not being up and running seven days a week — that’s the goal for January — they’ve logged interaction with thousands of visitors. Between May and September alone, they connected with more than 9,000 visitors from across the globe, including Bucharest, Guatemala, Switzerland, Cayman Islands and beyond. Purdy said he figures in 2018, by being open more regularly, the kiosk could expect in excess of 50,000 visitors.
“We have some incredible momentum,” said Purdy, noting events like the 2018 FIBA Under-18 Americas Basketball Championship in St. Catharines and the 2021 Canada Summer Games bring even more people and exposure to the region.
St. Catharines regional Coun. Bruce Timms, who helped champion the initiative at the Niagara Region, said the partnership is an ideal one to promote tourism across the region, whether it is the Fort Erie Race Track, pick-your-own farms, the Wine Route or the carousel in St. Catharines.
“It is important to be a regional tourism push because Niagara has so much more to offer beyond the casino and Marineland that are advertised on television,” said Timms, who has been helping volunteer at the kiosk. “I have found the Tourist is interested in returning to visit the rest of Niagara once they see all we have to offer.”
Timms added that with the full-service stop, featuring restaurants and other amenities, not to mention the GO bus station and the GO train station in a few years, the Gateway centre is an ideal space to have such a service.
“There is so much potential,” said Timms.
Purdy said they invite the Niagara community to get involved, whether as an advertiser to help support the operating budget — those interested can email director of marketing and sales Phil Kountouris at Philip@omnimedia.com — or as a volunteer. Right now they are seeking volunteers with a passion for sharing Niagara’s stories with visitors for two- to three-hour shifts from Friday through Sunday. Anyone interested can contact Purdy by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We have a great opportunity here,” said Purdy. “With the right support we know that we can make this a successful operation.”