New Era for Maid of the Mist

August 9, 2013 Updated Aug 9, 2013 at 1:59 PM EDT

By WKBW Admin

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August 9, 2013 Updated Aug 9, 2013 at 1:59 PM EDT

Major changes are in the works for the international attraction in Niagara Falls. Next year, two separate companies will run boat tours for visitors.

The Maid of the Mist Steamboat Co. has operated tour boats at the Falls since 1846. It will continue to provide services on the American side. Now Hornblower Cruises & Events will operate on the Canadian side.

Tourism officials say having competing operators may actually increase ridership, noting that competition is a healthy thing giving tourists more options.

Hornblower tells Business First it will be aggressive in marketing the boats. They offered to buy Maid of the Mist, but the Glynn family says it is not for sale.

A $32 million dollar boat storage and dock project is in the works on this side of the border.

Here's the background on Hornblower: The company was founded in 1980 and is based in San Francisco. It handled more than 16 million passengers last year in many big cities like New York and San Diego. It says it has invested $25 million here with new vessels being constructed in Ontario. The boats in Niagara Falls will be called Hornblower Niagara Cruises. That is only on the Canadian side.

You can read more about the issue in today's Business First.