From the Niagara Falls Review:
Passports, the economy and cheerleading might not seem to have a lot in common, but they do.
Just ask Nick Nero, organizer of the 26th annual Festival of Lights Cheerleading Championship competition held in Niagara Falls on the weekend.
Teams from the United States, which in past years have brought a lot of business into the honeymoon capital, are staying home.
That’s because many Americans still don’t have passports so they are staying on their side of the border.
“We are down about 40 per cent all because of passports and the economy in the United States,” said Nero. “We just have to bit the bullet this year and hopefully things will pick up again.”
The three-day event, which began on Friday at the Niagara Falls Memorial Arena, is always well attended by teams from the United States, but that trend has been changing. And, with the American and Canadian dollar being so close in value, there is less incentive for Americans to spend there money here, where they once enjoyed a 20 or 30 per cent exchange rate.
“We are just like any other business in Niagara Falls. Everyone is feeling the pinch right now. At one time we were able to book a thousand or 1,200 hotel rooms, but right now it’s probably around five or six hundred,” said Nero.