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Conventioneers return to Niagara Falls for the 1st time since the pandemic

The front entrance to the Niagara Falls Conference and Event Center
Niagara Falls USA
The front entrance to the Niagara Falls Conference and Event Center.

For the first time since before COVID, there were hundreds of conventioneers in Niagara Falls this week, spending cash and eating in Cataract City restaurants.

The annual Public Employees Federation meeting was visible in the city's hotels, restaurants and the Conference & Event Center, with 800 people spending four days in town for the meeting.

"Nobody was really too sure when conferences were going to be able to be held again," said Destination USA Niagara Operations Vice President Andrea Czopp. "We were sort of thinking maybe it would be into 2022. So when PEF decided to come to town for the conference, an in-person conference, we were thrilled. The hotels were thrilled. This is a very good sign for things to come, for 2022 and beyond."

Destination USA Niagara made sure restaurants knew the event was coming, to ensure those who might usually be closed in the off-season for tourism were available for those attending to eat. Convention officials estimate around $1.3 million in economic impact.

Czopp said hotels did well.

"Attracting this event was really exciting because it benefited multiple hotel properties in downtown Niagara Falls. It wasn't just for the Conference Center," Czopp said. "This was also for multiple hotels and, in addition, small businesses, because the attendees were on their own for several meals. So they were walking around the downtown area and patronizing some of our local restaurants."

Czopp said conventioneers will go home and talk about what a good time they had in the Falls. The contract with PEF is that the annual meeting will take place in the Conference Center a year from now also.

"I was talking with our sales manager earlier today and she mentioned that she was getting a lot of great feedback, that they really enjoyed themselves here and they're actually coming back again in 2022," she said. "We were hosting them this fall and then we will host them again next fall. So we're glad that they had a good time because they are signed up to be here with us again next year and we plan to knock it out of the park once again."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.