From Buffalo Business First:
The 2011 season for the Maid of the Mist Steamboat Corp. began Wednesday morning.
But the bigger question is whether this will be the last year that the Niagara Falls, N.Y.-based company will be permitted to run its boats from the U.S. and Canadian shores of the lower Niagara River.
At issue is a 2008 renewal that the Maid of the Mist Steamboat Corp. signed with the Niagara Parks Commission to continue to pick up and drop off passengers on the Canadian side of the Niagara River. Potential competitors cried foul over what they perceived as a no-bid process that saw the pact renewed.
The issue morphed into a political hot button in Niagara Falls, Ont., with the parks commission ultimately deciding to withdraw the deal and put the tour-boat operations out to bid. The bids were issued last fall, and 18 firms including Maid of the Mist Steamboat Corp. are believed to have responded. The parks commission has declined to formally identify any of the bidders.
From the Niagara Falls Reporter:
The Niagara Falls Reporter’s expose on the secret dealings surrounding the Maid of the Mist boat tour lease at the Niagara Parks Commission (NPC) in Ontario was instrumental in leading the minister of Tourism to order the NPC to put that lease out to bid. Subsequently, most of the NPC commissioners were fired.
The deadline for the bids, or “Responses to the Request for Proposals,” is 3 p.m., Jan. 31. An award will be made sometime this summer…
…Again, exclusively, the Reporter has learned the identity of the bidders:
I don’t know how they find this stuff out, but check it out!
From the Niagara Falls Review:
Two of the big projects on the plate of the Niagara Parks Commission will continue over the winter despite Monday’s turfing of four government-appointed commissioners and their temporary replacement by six senior bureaucrats.
Chairwoman Fay Booker said a government-ordered competition to pick a company to run boat tours on the Niagara River is unfolding, as is a strategic planning exercise Booker launched earlier this year.
The parks commission put the “final strokes” on its request for proposals Tuesday -the document private companies interested in providing boat tours will respond to.
“Then it’s all in the hands of the bidders in terms of the bidding,” Booker said in an interview this week.
From the Niagara Falls Reporter:
The list of 13 bidders now standing in line to take over the concession to operate sightseeing boats below Niagara Falls from public docks on the Ontario side of the river reads like a who’s who of international tourism superstars.
And two independent sources with direct knowledge of the bidding process told the Niagara Falls Reporter last week that Disney Cruise Lines, a subsidiary of one of the richest and most renowned entertainment companies on earth, is the early favorite in a field containing any number of household names.
Three different Disney press spokespeople told the Reporter that company policy forbids discussion of deals that have yet to be consummated, and the Ontario provincial government has refused to provide the names of any of the potential bidders to the public. But Disney representatives will be among those to conduct an inspection of the Canadian dock site next month, the independent sources confirmed.