Walkable Tourist District: An Analysis of Tourist Walkability in Niagara Falls on New York and Ontario
Kamal Ahmadi, Tara
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Urban tourism is an essential element for revitalization and income generation for urban and rural areas. Niagara Falls, as a well-known tourist destination in North America attracts annually near 12 million visitors to the Canadian side while only 6 million tourists visit the American side. Tourists only stay few hours on the American side, then they go to the Canadian side. However, the city of Niagara Falls, NY has many potential places of interests for visitors; these attractions are clustered in a few discrete areas. In fact, the circulation of tourists can be promoted through a walkable tourist district. A walkable tourist district acts as a magnet that encourages tourists to stay longer. The main objective of this study is to develop a method to model the walkability of tourist district by introducing a new composite walkability index. This thesis studies various criteria related to the built environment that have an impact on tourist walkability within Niagara Falls on New York based on strengths and success points exist in Niagara Falls on Ontario. The research is structured around both quantitative and qualitative approaches by gathering various types of demographic and geo-spatial data. The composite walkability index is calculated based on the sum of the five walkability variables: density, diversity, design, connectivity, and proximity. Results and findings of this thesis provide recommendations linked to each of the walkability indices for Niagara Falls, NY. One of the major conclusions shows the importance of having a distinguished tourist zone with specific land use distribution and urban design regulations. The findings from analysis also support the homogeneous land use distribution for the tourist district that offers specifically tourist-based commercial establishments.