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Remember during the fast ferry days when people said Canadians would never want to come to Rochester?

They’re flocking in droves to Buffalo and Syracuse ā€“ to spend money.

Sales tax receipts in Erie and Niagara counties are surging. Local officials credit Canadians. From the Buffalo News:

So what’s fueling the growth?

“There’s a one-word answer I can give you right now: Canadians,” said Gary D. Keith, an economist with M&T Bank. “They have been helping our retail sector significantly throughout 2011, and, in fact, the nice growth we’re seeing in Erie County has been topped by what’s happening in Niagara County.”

The Syracuse Post Standard reports Canadians are coming by the busload to Carousel Center, Wegmans and the Waterloo Premium Outlets:

The two currencies are about par right now. A big reason Canadian shoppers are coming to the U.S., and Syracuse in particular, is for the wide variety of stores and variety of goods they cannot purchase in Canada. And to escape goods and services taxes and other sales taxes, which are, they say, much higher in their homeland.

Rochester may not be as convenient as Syracuse and Buffalo, but I’d be willing to bet we’re getting at least some of that traffic. We have the unique attractions of The Strong and George Eastman House, but the shopping opportunities are no different. Maybe it’s time to figure out another kind of attraction to capture the Canadians!

8 Responses to Canadians Flocking to Buffalo, Syracuse

  1. December 31, 2011 at 12:20 pm James Simons responds:

    This is a perfect reason why we need the fast ferry to rise again. The problem with the first ferry wasn’t the idea itself, but how it was planned and marketed. The ferry should be seen as a subsidized marketing tool for our region. The multiplier effect of those visiting here from Canada is tremendous and far outweighs any funds spent on the ship itself.

    Carousel is only going to get bigger and I agree that this area definitely needs something to pull people here, including Canadians.

  2. December 31, 2011 at 12:53 pm Carlos Mercado responds:

    OK. The Syracuse and Buffalo newspapers tell us that Canadian tourism is good for their local economies. Good. I’m happy for them. The missing-link is the impact of Canadian tourism on the Rochester area. Do we know that we are getting crushed by our neighboring cities? How are WE doing?

  3. Carlos is right. Before we go to far in our critique of Rochester v Other Cities in respect to Canadian tourism we do need to know where we actually stand. On the note of ferry traffic, it seems to me that the fast ferry was plagued with mismanagement. ($6000/day for a foreign pilot was a wreck, for instance) I’m thrilled that we have a private entity pursuing a new ferry. Government mucks things up too much.

  4. December 31, 2011 at 3:20 pm Carlos Mercado responds:

    Now, in the interest of transparency, I am a member of Visit Rochester and do marketing work for them, so I know we enjoy an excellent reputation in metro Toronto, albeit we are still not well enough known. We do get a goodly number of visitors from Ontario and Quebec provinces, but I honestly don’t know our numbers vis-a-vis our neighboring cities.

  5. I have a friend who lives in Toronto and goes to the Seneca Niagara Casino to play poker. She and her husband always stay over for two nights, primarily so they can buy things in our country and avoid taxes with a two day stay. For them to come to Rochester, a small ferry, with a shuttle to a poker room, hotels and shopping, would do the trick.

  6. This doesn’t surprise me. I did use the fast ferry, only once, when it was available. I had some people from Canada visit me. From the Canadian visitor, it was faster and reduced the uncertainty of the border crossing. Additionally, we take what we have for granted. Both food, and grocery goods were different than what was available in Canada. Additionally, our prices were significantly cheaper. The Fast Ferry operating structure included revenues from commercial transportation. The transport bay area was huge, but it was empty. The govt wouldn’t clear it for the intended use. There is no doubt if we had the infrastructure, and some optimism, it would be viable.

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