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Cataract Tours Emerges As Industry's Gold Standard

Thomas "Big Daddy" Kerr poses in front of a picture of the American Falls. Kerr created a modest priced guided bus tour of the falls that is attracting tens of thousands of tourists per year.

Part of the Kerr formula is hiring elegant, attractive and energetic tour guides, who not only know their subject, but are enthusiastic about introducing people to one of the wonders of the world. Above, posing in front of one of Cataract's fleet of modern buses, is licensed tour guide, Dayna Murchison, one of Cataract's most popular and most requested guides..

Operating out of the One Niagara building in downtown Niagara Falls, four year-old Cataract Tours has emerged as what may be the largest provider of guided bus tours for tourists wishing to see the wonders of Niagara Falls.

Besides the work of its legendary tour promoter, Thomas "Big Daddy" Kerr, the man who many credit for developing the industry's new gold standard, the famed "Cataract American Falls Tour," that introduces tens of thousands of wide-eyed and happy tourists every year to their first, glorious vision of Niagara Falls, part of the secret of Cataract's astounding success is, unquestionably, its friendly and attractive model/tour guides.

"As anyone in the tour industry knows, the tour guide makes or breaks the tour for the customer," said Kerr. "So why not offer them the best?"

If they are pleasing to look at, that is plus too, Kerr acknowledged.

Chief among Cataract's stunning guides is Dayna Murchison.

"I love what I do," Dayna said, shortly after returning from a tour where she squired a group of happy tourists who viewed the falls for the first time.

"I guess I'm kind of a freak on tour. I love the experience of showing folks the falls for the first time so much so that the joy is contagious. The people on my tour have a riot."

Cataract's American tour includes the American, Bridal and Horseshoe Falls, a visit to the Cave of the Winds, a ride on the Maid of the Mist, a tour of Goat Island, a walk to Terrain Point, an up close view of the upper and lower rapids, an overview of the giant whirlpool at Whirlpool State Park and a stunning, panoramic view from both the NYS observation tower and the Power Vista.

During the tour, Dayna, hardly able to contain an infectious enthusiasm, said she loves to explain the history, the geological and geographical facts of the falls, as well as stories about the rich and the famous who have visited, some of whom Dayna herself has guided.

"I engage the people in conversation, find out about them. They ask and answer questions. When they're done, they know more about the falls than many people who lived here all their lives."

Kerr, when collaborating with others to create his signature tour, said it was important to him to create a tour that showed off the wonders on the U. S. side and was affordable as well.

His guided tours, including all admissions, are around $70, less expensive than his competitors.

"We like to keep tourists here on our side and support local businesses," Kerr said. "After our guests are done with our tour, they are usually pretty hungry and ready to dine and shop in local shops and restaurants."

Asked if she might like to try another line of work, or even do guided tours of some other attraction in some other town, Dayna said she wouldn't.

"Seeing the falls is on most people's 'bucket list,'" she said. "I plan to be a guide, showing people Niagara Falls, until the day I die."

Enthusiasm, intrepidity, energy, panache, a desire to please the community and customers, are the hallmarks of success anywhere.

Cataract has risen in the local tour industry, in a city that normally passes for broken and needy, using the time honored formula for success: hard work and the desire to please.




Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

Apr23, 2013