For many Canadians, the stores, the lower sales tax and the deals at Destiny USA make a trip worth a few hours on the highway. Lisa Joannis and her daughter Natasha come down to Syracuse from Ottawa several times a year and often talk friends into making the trip with them.
"I do pitch to them and I say we're coming down to Syracuse for the weekend to do some shopping and I tell my work buddies they should come," said Lisa Joannis.
Over the past year, tour bus visits at Destiny have gone up by 77% and executives want to bring in even more. On Monday, a special lounge opened up on the first floor with snacks, recliners and TV's just for bus drivers. By keeping drivers comfortable, Destiny hopes more companies will make a stop in Syracuse.
Tour operator Spike Herzig says many people don't realize just how much of a draw Destiny has become
"We're up 30%. That's just into Syracuse. We're not up that much in the Finger Lakes, we're not up that much in the Mohawk Valley. It's the Destiny name - people have heard about that for a long time," said Herzig.
On Monday, four tour buses had parked at Destiny before noon. Terry Cassidy from Ottawa Valley Tours said the girl's weekend trips have been a big hit.
"All of these tours get sold out," said Cassidy.
Onondaga County Legislator Kathleen Rapp says out of town visitors generated more than half of the $24 million in sales tax revenue that came from Destiny USA last year. With more stores and attractions opening, that number will likely go up in 2013. Destiny USA executives are developing contacts in new tourism markets as well. Director of Marketing Rose Hapanowich will be meeting with tour operators from Britain, Russia and other countries about possibly stopping in Syracuse after visiting New York City.
"In the coming months we will be entering some of the emerging markets. We would like to get our name out their to the Brazilians, who are heavy heavy shoppers, China is a huge market, we have already met with some Chinese operators," said Hapanowich.