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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Mauiva Air offering day trips out of New York City to Niagara Falls


NIAGARA FALLS — A plane landed at Niagara Falls International Airport's Fixed Base Operations Sunday morning. In and of itself, not that unusual. But the promise it brings with it, is.

Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation (NTCC) has partnered with Mauiva Air, a leading tour company specializing in private and semi-private vacation experiences, to offer day trips out of New York City to Niagara Falls.

Working with Viator, a global leader in travel booking, Mauiva's all-inclusive day trips into Niagara Falls began Sunday and will run through October 31. The private plane will carry 30 visitors with an estimated economic impact to the area of approximately $250,000.

Mauiva Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing Mitch Pizik
discusses the particulars of day trips from New York City to Niagara Falls,
New York at a press conference in Niagara Falls on Sunday. (PHOTOS BY

Viator's Regional Director Tim Lewis said Sunday morning's visit to Niagara Falls, USA was his first — although he's been to the Canadian side before. "I'm very impressed," he said. "It seems a lot greener. A bit more of a relaxed atmosphere."

Lewis said the day trips will allow customers the opportunity to stay on the American side of the falls — or not. "We decided to give our customers the freedom to tour both sides of the Falls, so we actually include local attraction tickets on both sides so customers have the flexibility to enjoy the attractions at their leisure."

Viator has been selling day trips to the Falls for a number of years. Flights had gone into Buffalo, which has certain problems that flying into Niagara Falls on Mauiva's private planes alleviates.

With the new tours, a bus takes tourists to the tarmac of the Farmindale Airport in Long Island, where they board a private plane and fly to Niagara Falls International Airport. Once on the ground, another bus picks them up on the tarmac and into Niagara Falls. Without the hassle of larger airports and security, it shaves a considerable amount of time off the trip. In all, it takes 90 minutes from the time the travelers get to airport on Long Island until they get off the plane in Niagara Falls, according to Mauiva Executive Vice President of Marketing Mitch Pizik.

Pizik said the clientele for they day trips are primarily foreign. Typically, they're in New York City on vacation and want to see sights that are nearby — from their more global perspective.

"If you're in New York, why not fly in a day to see one of the perceived natural wonders of the world, Niagara Falls?" Lewis said.

"Now that we've created this affordable product, it's really a great product for a weekend or a day," Pizik added.

"We bring people into Niagara already," Pizik said, "as part of a six-day, five night excursion. They spend two days here on the longer trips."

The popularity of those trips made Mauiva approach Viator about selling day trips. Viator is a sort of online travel concierge, finding travel options for their customers. Mauiva is the tour operator, which Viator has worked with for a number of years.

Mauvia's destintions include Toronto, Hershey, Pa., Las Vegas, San Francisco, the Grand Canyon, Washington DC, and, of course Niagara Falls.

NTCC Director of Sales Elizabeth Davis hands a framed photo of Niagara
Falls to Viator's Regional Director Tim Lewis at the conclusion of a press
conference Sunday at the Hard Rock Cafe. 
"Our focus right now is on Niagara," Pizik said. "We're looking at doing modular (trips) ... you will literally be able to board in Niagara and fly to Washington if need be."

"Bet you didn't know that, huh?" Pizik said to the laughter of NTCC officials at a Sunday afternoon press conference at Niagara Falls' Hard Rock Cafe. "Breaking news."

Pizik said he had never been to Niagara Falls before, but four hours into the trip, he said he loved it.

Day trips start at $649 per person, which includes airfare and tickets to numerous local attractions, as well as breakfast on the plane.

NTCC officials presented Lewis and Pizik with photos of the falls at the end of the press conference before the pair took off to enjoy more of the area.

NTCC Director of Marketing and Communications Julie Gilbert said the Mauiva trips don't include any East Niagara destinations, but said that the more people that are brought into the Niagara region, the more likely it is that tourists will find their way to places like Lockport's famous Flight of Five.

NTCC and Niagara County just agreed — in principle — to terms on a three-year deal for tourism-related marketing. The Niagara County Legislature is expected to take up a resolution tonight to approve that deal through May 31, 2017.

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