Tall Ships Bring Big Business Boom Promised by Promoters

By KBJR News 1

July 29, 2013 Updated Jul 31, 2013 at 9:10 AM CST

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - While we may be shy of the quarter–million people, some of whom decided to stay out of the rain and cold, Northland restaurants and shops found themselves filling up and breaking records.

Visit Duluth president Terry Mattson says this weekend's fall–like weather probably kept local and regional numbers down, but it did little to stop the economic impact.

Mattson feels confident that more than 200,000 people made it to Duluth for the festival. 100,000 people paid at the gate, and tourists flocked to hotels, restaurants, and stores in the 10s of thousands.

"Our objective is to break even, to pay the freight," said Mattson as he wrapped up festivities by the Duluth Harbor, "I think we've accomplished that, [and] in the meantime created a $15 million economic impact for the Duluth business community, generated a ton of publicity, and created a lot of goodwill."

Mattson says lodging and dining reports are still coming in, some with record–breaking figures.

Duluth Grill alone had a 39% boost in business, with an average of 1,072 customers a day.

"When people report back to be that there's lines of folks trying to get into retail stores at Fitger's, Duluth Grill has a record week, and there's a traffic jam in and out of Duluth, I know I've done my job," said a beaming Mattson.

From a city standpoint, Duluth Mayor Don Ness says the fact that Tall Ships tickets were sold to all 50 states and every Canadian province speaks volumes about the Northland.

"...that we have a maritime heritage, that we have this incredible natural beauty, that we're a city that can host very large events, like Tall Ships, and put on a good show for folks," said Mayor Ness.

It's a 3–year minimum wait if the Tall Ships decide to return, but Mayor Ness says the Twin Ports are open for business in 2016.

"It suits our heritage, and it's an exciting thing for folks in the upper Midwest," added Mayor Ness.

...the fact that many people went home with new Duluth sweatshirts, after such a cool weekend, isn't hurting the city's promotion, either.

And the boom is being felt in Two Harbors, too.
T
he handful of hotels we spoke with today reported zero reservation cancellations.

Betty's Pies is also reporting a big boom in business, with a 15 percent increase in sales from this time last year.

- Posted to the web by Billy Wagness