SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Several hundred people from three continents and 14 countries are gathering in central New York for the 2017 World Canals Conference.

The five-day event kicks off in Syracuse on Sunday afternoon with free events on the city’s Inner Harbor, at Creekwalk and at downtown museums.

The annual conference brings together canal experts from around the world to discuss ways to improve waterways through economic development, tourism and cultural heritage initiatives.

The event is being held in Syracuse as New York state commemorates the 200th anniversary of the start of the construction of the Erie Canal.

The conference is being co-hosted by the New York State Canal Corp., Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor and Syracuse’s tourism office. The gathering is expected to pump an estimated $2 million into the local economy.

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