Business owners in Twin Ports look forward to tourism season

By KBJR News 1

May 2, 2014 Updated May 2, 2014 at 6:44 PM CDT

Duluth, Minn. (NNCNOW.com) -- Tourism experts around the twin ports are expecting this tourism season to look similar to last year.

"It wasn't a bad year last year, but it wasn't a record high year either," said Tim Campbell, the Northeast Minnesota Region director for Explore Minnesota.

Experts say last year April, May and June were very slow and the same is happening this year.

"I'm hearing that bookings are real slow," said Campbell. "It's a little later than usual this year. It was a little later last year as well. So it may be the same thing, it's the winter it's the weather."

And while the weather is a driving force behind the economics of tourism new numbers show the industry didn't take as big a hit as some predicted during the historic floods of 2012.

A report by Explore Minnesota Tourism and the Minnesota Department of Revenue showed the hospitality industry in the northeast region generated just over $12 billion in gross sales in 2012, which is similar to the revenue generated in previous years.

While many businesses were temporarily damaged by the flood most stayed afloat.

"It took about eight weeks, but the city rebounded fully. By the time August rolled around we were in full swing again," said Brian Daugherty, president of Grandma's Saloon.

Meanwhile, new numbers from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism indicate visitor spending of $10.8 billion contributed to the $17.5 billion in total business sales in 2013.

That's up four percent since 2012, and David Minor says new numbers for the Superior area are coming soon.

Once again, the weather may be prove to be a driving force, this time driving the numbers upwards thanks to the bump the region saw from the Lake Superior ice caves.

"It's going to be a huge increase from 2012. A big part of that is due to the winter we just had, it brings tourist to our area," said Minor.

With the ice now behind us, business owners in the Twin Ports are looking forward to the summer season.

"I think with all the ice and snow, people are buggy they want to get out. I think the hotels and tourist attractions are going to work extra hard this season to provide a great experience," said Jason Steinbach, president of the Vista Fleet.

Posted to the web by Kati Anderson.