Niagara Falls Tourism

Unconventionally boosting business tourism

Is there any sight more iconic than the spectacular Niagara Falls? As the thunderous sound of cascading water fills the air it is complemented by the bustle of a lively community, and surrounded by the peace of the escarpment. Niagara has been a tourism destination for families and adults alike. In just several short weeks, however, a new era of tourism will begin in Niagara with the opening of the Scotiabank Convention Centre. This state-of-the-art green building is designed to host a variety of business events—from trade shows, to conventions, to corporate meetings and more.

The 288,000 square foot centre stands proudly a mere 500 metres from the Horseshoe Falls. The stunning, LEED-certified facility has an 82,000 square foot Exhibition Hall to accommodate over 400 ten-by-ten display booths, a distinctive 17,000 square foot Ballroom, and 26,000 square feet of flexible meeting and breakout space. With a particular focus on green practices, every detail of the centre was ensured to use only the best practices for the environment.

Kerry Painter, President and General Manager of the centre, took a few moments from the hectic and exciting preparations to speak with CBJ. “The best part about LEED is that, yes, it does amazing things for the world—but that it is bright. There are windows everywhere, that is what people are going to notice most of all. The meeting rooms have windows, the exhibition rooms, it’s just bright and pleasant to be in instead of in a typical convention centre where it is dark and you don’t know what time it is…I am so in awe of how bright and beautiful it is.”

‘UnConventional’ beauty and brand

The centre has branded itself the UnConventional Centre—a tribute to the spirit of Niagara. During the course of development, a lot of research was done with planners. Much of this was to determine the roadblocks other convention centres had faced in order to avoid them. A question was posed and Painter and the planning team wanted to know: “What is Niagara?” Vivid, abundant, and original were the prominent words that appeared during discussion, and that feeling was captured with the phrase of the “Unconventional Centre.”

The Scotiabank Convention Centre is committed to going above and beyond the expected in regards to green practices. “The Falls and the water and the lake is already of so much importance to us,” Painter explains, “so the least amount of damage that we can do to the place we are in the better. And we think it is important to planners, and we know that corporations want it—but it was really important to us as part of this environment and community.”

The perfect location

Niagara is an extraordinary community to build upon and undoubtedly the reason this centre will thrive. Convention centres are big business. Every year more locations are scrambling to build centres that can accommodate the needs of the business community, without realizing the associated requirements. Hotel rooms don’t get built because they can’t be proven successful yet, creating an unfortunate cycle. In Niagara, however, every single possible amenity and service that is needed is already in place. There are 6,500 upscale hotel rooms that are already in business and countless recreational activities—all literally within steps of the centre. “We have a half-million people come here every year,” says Painter. “We know how to take care of people and volumes. It is a gift to me to come to a city that is ready like that.”

Among the recreational activities available are countless outdoor excursions, restaurants, shopping, day spas, casinos—the list is endless. Niagara is the golf capital of Canada and has more than 40 golf courses. Not to be forgotten is the famous Niagara wine regions, with over 60 unique wineries boasting world class wine and tours to boot.  “Niagara is not just frivolous fun, it’s mature fun and adult fun,” says Painter. “It’s all kinds of great things rolled into one.”

The options for entertainment in Niagara are extraordinary. There are sightseeing bus tours, tours on the Maid of the Mist beneath the spectacular falls, and beautiful walking trails through heritage sites. There are exciting shops, world class theatre, and an endless list of attractions appealing to businesses looking for an exciting conference destination.

Family fun, of course, still has a place in Niagara—from the exotic Bird Kingdom, to themed waterparks to rides and more. The location offers an option for families to accompany those attending events at the Scotiabank Convention Centre. “There is a lot to offer in Niagara,” says Painter. “It is a great place to visit. People may want to bring their spouses with them because there is a lot to keep them busy.”

The beginning of business tourism

It is a logical progression to take a major tourism destination and add in that last final element—business. The convention centre is designed to cater to business across many different markets. There is a unique approach taken which hopefully will strike a chord with the community. For example, the Scotiabank Theatre is a 1,000-person theatre built right into the convention centre. This theatre will feature entertainment such as musicals, and can also function as a business tool. “A lot of conventions are using that theatre for an element that makes thing different,” says Painter. “Things such as awards shows or having a keynote speaker in there.”

It is beautiful symbiotic relationship which will strengthen each of the parties involved. Niagara has provided this wonderfully developed location for a convention centre, making it a natural destination for the corporate community and a surefire success. Conversely, the Scotiabank Convention Centre will increase business to all of Niagara’s wonderful hotels, restaurants and attractions. This perfect match is sure to put Niagara on the map as the one of the premiere business and trade convention locations across the globe.