Tourism group says Buffalo is cashing in

February 3, 2012 Updated Feb 3, 2012 at 8:08 AM EDT

By WKBW News
By Business First by James Fink, Buffalo Business First Reporter

February 3, 2012 Updated Feb 3, 2012 at 8:08 AM EDT

Using several key economic standards, Visit Buffalo Niagara had a record year bolstering the area's tourism and hospitality industry.

According to Visit Buffalo Niagara's annual report, the organization - formerly the Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitors Bureau - set new marks for hotel room nights booked and the estimated value of future bookings, among other indicators.

"All year long, I had a feeling it was going to be a good year but until I saw the hard data and numbers, I didn't realize just how good it was," said Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, Visit Buffalo Niagara president and chief executive officer.

Hotel room occupancy rate rose to 66.1 percent last year from 64.7 percent in 2010 and revenues generated from those booked rooms increase 7 percent to $197.82 million from $185.54 million in 2010. The average hotel room rate increased to $90.96 last year from $87.45 in 2010.

In terms of hotel rooms booked, Visit Buffalo Niagara hit 165,644, an all-time record.

Among the major conventions held in Buffalo last year including the New York State School Boards Association gathering that attracted 4,500 people and had an estimated $7.75 million economic impact on the region and the National Trust for Historic Preservation that brought 2,500 visitors and left behind an estimated $4.2 million windfall for the community.

Visit Buffalo Niagara's staff chased down 814 sales leads for future events ranging from larger conventions to major, amateur sporting events. Some 441 events in future years have been booked, and that could have an economic impact of more than $123 million. Those gatherings could involve large-sized sporting events to smaller groups.

"We are building on the strengths we have," Gallagher-Cohen said. "The (annual) report shows we are building up a foundation that bodes well for the region."

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