Disney Institute Course Heading to Downtown Niagara Falls in Effort to Boost Tourism

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. -- Tourism in Niagara Falls is the driving force of the local economy, and after a record-setting summer, officials want to see the momentum continue.

"Even though we broke records this past year with the number of people coming, over 9 million, and the fact that the state has invested over $65 million in our state parks to bring them up to the status that a world-class attraction like this should have, we've done a lot on our end - but how do we take it up a notch?" asked Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, D-New York.

Officials on Thursday announced the Disney Institute will be heading to downtown Niagara Falls with its professional development course.

"They will focus on the premises of business excellence and using the Disney model as their framework for educating people how to set up businesses, how to manage businesses," said Niagara University Provost and Chief Academic Officer Tim Downs.

The one-day event will take place at the Conference and Event Center on March 2. It will hold up to 200 people with tickets selling at $250 per person. Officials say this event will help in driving the tourism numbers up even higher.

"This is taking our regional tourism efforts to a whole new level, capitalizing on the brand name, the legacy of creativity, the global influence that Disney has," said Hochul.

The plan is to apply what is learned from the course to the tourism industry here.

"It's going to better prepare us and position us for success to grow this sector of the economy, tourism, with the workforce that we need," said Downs.

"It's not just about the falls, because it doesn't take that long to look at the falls and if it's a cold windy day it might be five minutes that you look at the falls, but how do we get them to stay?" asked Hochul.

Though it will be just a one-day event, officials say they plan to keep pushing workforce development and training sessions to help tourism grow.

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