GUEST VIEW: Being Neighborly To Tourists (and how it started from the top)

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By: Peter Green

 

Peter Green

 

The other day a friend and I were driving along Whirlpool Avenue close to the Whirlpool Bridge.  Ahead of us was a car with out-of-state license plates and they were driving like someone who was lost, which so often happens to all of us when we are in a strange city.  We pulled alongside and motioned to speak with the driver.  We asked if they were lost, and they replied they had “just figured it out” and were very thankful for our concern.  We exchanged smiles and drove on, commenting that they were very pleasant people.  

 A major lament and concern over the past few years is that the City of Niagara Falls New York is such a different experience than the State Park which monopolizes the Falls access.  People have been expressing frustration and anger that the State Park “makes the money” while the City around it suffers and reaps much less.  Well, the debate here could go on for weeks…..but there’s a step we all can take to start showing our City as a worthwhile experience to visitors.

 Start being neighborly to our tourist guests!  If you see someone that appears to be from out-of-town, when you pass offer a smile and a friendly hello.  If someone looks like they need guidance or directions, offer to assist and don’t worry if they don’t seem appreciative at first….it can take a while for someone to process what they just experienced.  Just by offering, just by smiling, we are saying “hi neighbor” to people who may be here for a few hours or a few days.  Some may sit back, roll their eyes and say “what is he talking about?”.  I have worked in the Niagara Tourism Industry for 30 years, and I am an avid traveller to other places.  When someone interacts positively with me, it creates an overall feeling of welcome.  Perhaps, and even if it’s only a couple from Vermont or Iowa, they might feel welcomed enough to venture further into our City and discover fine dining (and more neighbors).  

 

 

I was hosting a group back in October at a local hotel.  They were here for a 5-day educational program and had one night to dine on their own.  One couple came to me the next morning and were excited that they had spoken with “a candidate for Mayor” – they had dined where our Mayor, Mr. Restaino, had been holding a fundraiser for his campaign.  This couple met him and exchanged pleasantries…..Mr. Restaino was being a “good neighbor” in this case, and when they shared the educational program they were on and the fact they were from out-of-state, Mr. Restaino engaged them in a conversation and they commented that he listened carefully to their observations about the City.   As they were so delighted by this opportunity, I interviewed the couple formally and recorded their comments about our City and Mr. Restaino’s interaction so that I can use it on a Tourism Podcast that I’ll be launching once things return to something resembling normal.  

A further testimony to bumping into a ‘welcoming neighbor” was the fact that this couple shared their experience with our entire group of 30 people from all across the US.  I felt it was a good sign….Mr. Restaino had not yet been elected but he was still someone who represented Niagara Falls. 

Mentioning Mr. Restaino is not about politics.  It is about community and being neighbors.  In this instance, we see that the capacity for reaching out and welcoming or aiding visitors can start from the top.  

It’s just a small idea, but it can yield big results.  Let’s start reaching out to our visitors with at least a smile and a hello.  Keep an eye open to see if you can aid or assist someone, and don’t hesitate to recommend a favorite restaurant or attraction locally.  Tourists love “local knowledge” and the perspective of someone who lives here.  

 

 

To rebuild Niagara Falls and restore our Tourism lustre, let’s start by smiling at those who are wondering “what happened” to our City.  Through our behavior, many will get the impression that it’s not the people who caused it, and they can have hope that our City is rebuilding and rising again.  Who knows, they may choose to come back to see how we’re progressing?

 Those who dismiss this idea, thinking that a smile or a hello doesn’t make a difference, are reminded that apathy or rudeness got us here in a variety of ways.  It certainly won’t get us out of the mess.  

 Give it a try….write to the Reporter and let us know if you have a positive story about Tourism Interaction.  

 And have a wonderful day!

………

 Peter Green is a professional educator and host in the Tourism Industry.  He is originally from Canada and has lived in Niagara Falls NY since 2015.  His new podcast, “The Two Sides of Niagara” will be launching in January of 2021 on Yowowa Media.  

 


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