Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Roll out red carpet for Canadians

Roll out red carpet for Canadians
Deepak Seth • Guest essayist • May 12, 2008

As our elected officials struggle to balance their budgets, help may lie right across the lake — in petro-dollar-rich Canada.While the U.S. dollar has weakened, the Canadian dollar has gotten stronger in recent years. The weakening dollar has made the U.S. an attractive tourism and shopping destination for Canadians.

Friends in Buffalo talk about Canadians swarming area malls. Buffalo Niagara International Airport is seeing massive influxes of Canadians who get an automatic 10 percent or more discount if they fly out of Buffalo vs. flying out of Toronto. The plans for the Buffalo Bills to play in Toronto works wonders, too.

This is all great news for Buffalo's moribund economy recovering from the decades-long manufacturing slowdown.To benefit from this boom we need to ensure that the welcome red carpet extends to Rochester and the Finger Lakes area. Area businesses and tourism bodies all have a role to play:
* Local business, civic and tourism leaders should be actively promoting Rochester in Canada at all forums.
*Stock merchandise preferred by Canadian buyers. Accept Canadian currency or make more currency conversion options available. Add French speaking staff. Add Canadian favorites to menus (fries with gravy and cheese anyone?) Make Canadian TV channels/newspapers available in guest rooms.
*Hand out "Visit Rochester'' literature at the border. Create a "Canada Week'' in Rochester in which area museums — Strong, Eastman, Memorial Art Gallery —showcase Canada-themed collections or Canadian artists. The Rochester Philharmonic can have a guest conductor from Canada. Local stores can have Canada-themed displays.
*Names such as Xerox, Kodak, and Bausch & Lomb are still big draws. There could be an "Imaging Tour'' of Rochester which showcases Rochester's "inventive genius'' heritage.
*The high-speed ferry was ahead of its time. Now, there is potential for a privately-run hovercraft operation between Toronto and Rochester. Congresswoman Louise Slaughter's efforts to reinvestigate options are laudable.

Let's take a page out of the Canadian playbook and replicate the same measures they had employed to motivate us to spend our powerful dollars in the days when one dollar equaled 1.4 Canadian dollars.

Does an integrated "Visit Rochester'' campaign for Canadians already exist? If not, can our city, county, tourism and business leaders get together to create one and present it to the community within the next 90 days?

We would have no one but ourselves to blame if we are left by the wayside in this mini gold rush. Community members serve on the Editorial Board and write regular columns.

No comments:

Search Google


Site Meter