Seneca Money to Invest in Niagara Falls Marketing

June 25, 2013 Updated Jun 25, 2013 at 11:25 PM EDT

By Rachel Elzufon

June 25, 2013 Updated Jun 25, 2013 at 11:25 PM EDT

Niagara Falls, NY (WKBW) - An advertisement for Niagara Falls was seen by millions across the country, all thanks to an agreement between the Seneca Nation and the New York State.

Niagara USA is turning Seneca Casino cash into a marketing blitz, hitting major markets across the country.

Shortly before Nik Wallenda walked on a two-inch wire 1,500 feet over an Arizona gorge on Sunday, millions of viewers saw an advertisement for Niagara Falls.

The advertisement aired in 15 major markets, reminding viewers of Wallenda's journey in Niagara Falls just one year ago.

The 30 second spot aired in big cities including Boston, New York City and Columbus, wishing Nik Wallenda luck, and promoting the Cataract City's biggest attraction.

"(Nik Wallenda) put us on the national and international stage last year," says John Percy, the President & CEO of Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation.

The $25-thousand advertisement only aired during the Wallenda Walk, but it is having a big effect.

As of Monday night, web hits to Niagara USA's website are up 25-percent. There is also a five-percent increase in hotel reservations through the website made from one year ago.

Funding for the ad came from a recent deal with the Seneca Nation and New York State, in which the Senecas get exclusive casino rights in the region and agreed to release the 89-million dollars in slot machine revenue owed to Niagara Falls.

Of that money, six million goes to the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation.

"It is going to give us an opportunity to increase our budgets, increase our advertising buys, and really extend our reach," explains Percy, "because we have had to pull back the last three years on our marketing effort."

Future ads and campaigns will be seen outside of Western New York or even the state. Percy says they will feature other local gems, including the Lockport Locks, Whirlpool Jet Boats and Herschell Carousel Museum.

"People know about Niagara Falls, but they don't know about the other product," Percy explains. "so our biggest challenge and our biggest opportunity is educating that consumer."

Upcoming ad campaigns are aimed to focus in six markets -- including Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Syracuse.