School of Architecture and Planning

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A Summary of the Conversation

Buffalo's Opportunity

the idea of heritage development

the values of heritage development

real places and telling stories

heritage development and the tourism industry

tourism is a byproduct of good places

making it work economically

the process is important

Executive summary

Buffalo's Opportunity

The Idea of Heritage Development

The Economics of Heritage Development

Urban Design and Heritage Development

Exhibit of Historic Views

Heritage Development
- a Case Study

Group Discussion Sessions

Content Analysis
(coming soon)

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Heritage Development and the Tourism Industry

Far less ambiguous is the fact that the tourism industry holds enormous potential for the Buffalo-Niagara region. It is a trillion dollar a year business in the United States, Moriarity said, with 7.6 million people directly employed. It provides regions that draw visitors with a kind of export income. People arrive with the dollars they earned somewhere else and spend them here.

Heritage tourism more specifically is one of the richest and fastest growing segments of the tourism industry. Heritage tourists tend to be older Americans who have more disposable income, more discretionary time, and who place a higher value on the authentic, educational, and unique experiences that heritage tourism offers. Three quarters of American tourist trips occur by car or bus, Moriarity said. That means Buffalo is well-located in relation to U.S. population centers to take advantage of a regional market. There’s also a market in families with children. Casino-goers in Niagara Falls, however, are not likely to be customers for historic attractions, too.

Speakers emphasized that it is the experience that visitors are buying. As such, it behooves host communities to create a “continuous experience” of heritage sites and attractions. Nor is the experience all about heritage, either. Partly it is about how restaurants, hotels, and shops, as well as attractions, treat the customers, as Carmichael put it. Or, as Gallaher said, it is about “eating and drinking and strolling and drinking some more.” Above all it is about providing an experience that is complete, satisfying, unique to the place and not “everyday.”

The Michigan Avenue Baptist Church was an important stop on the Underground Railroad. -  Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society Consistent with the general themes of the heritage development concept, the best visitor attractions are also the ones most likely to attract residents. In Buffalo’s case – “not a slam dunk destination” – Moriarity suggested it might make sense to start with the resident base and build the visitor traffic. In any event, attractions must have appeal to both residents and visitors.

Likewise, the experts agreed, it is crucial to develop attractions with multiple components and multiple story lines, to make thematic links among attractions throughout the region, and to work for that “ever elusive critical mass.” As Engelke put it, it’s important to “link the places that tell the stories.” Some of the connections that need to be made in order to maximize the region’s potential are the historic connection between the Canal and Niagara Falls, local connections between the Canal and other generators of visitor activity like the convention center, and even longer links such as between the Erie and Illinois and Michigan Canals. This sort of complexity, as well as a continuous renewal and refreshment of attractions, is exactly what will create habit and promote repeat visits by both residents and tourists.

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