National Travel and Tourism Week Recognizes Success In Duluth

By KBJR News 1

May 7, 2013 Updated May 7, 2013 at 7:14 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - If you've been outside in Duluth today you probably noticed all the people visiting local shops, walking on the Lake Walk or standing in line at the city's various attractions.

This week is National Travel and Tourism Week and as area businesses gear up for the start of tourism season, the city's tourism agency Visit Duluth celebrated Travel Rally Day.

Businesses that cater to tourists had had an extra long wait with the winter that just wouldn't end.

"Well, in the Northland, you kind of have to expect a little bit of weather delay," Dan Edmunds, Co-owner of Art in the Alley, said.

The co–owner of Art in The Alley says they're hopeful the nice weather will continue as they're largely dependent on foot traffic.

"Tourism around here is just huge and you know, with the hotels right across the street, there's a lot of weddings—you know, I think we are in a really good position for having a good summer," Edmunds said.

"Business has been pretty good considering the late start with all the snow. Winter is still hanging around so ended up opening about a week late this year," Steve Rankila, William A. Irvin Museum Manager, said.

You may be thinking because of the late start to the spring season, many local tourism hot spots would be making up for lost time.

The William A. Irvin Ore Boat Museum is expecting 50 thousand people to visit this year.

Between Canal Park and Downtown, 3.5 million people are expected to pay a visit even though the snow is still melting.

"In the late 1980's, The direct impact of tourism on Duluth was about $80M. Today we've driven that up to $800M," Terry Mattson, Visit Duluth President, CEO, said.

Visit Duluth celebrated its tourism success at the annual membership meeting and luncheon at the Greysolon Ballroom.

Terry Mattson, the president of Visit Duluth, says there are more than 18 thousand people employed locally in the hospitality and tourism industries and he wants to see that expanded.

"Our goal is to essentially double the state tourism advertising budget. Right now Duluth is not as competitive as it needs to be on a national level," Mattson said.

Governor Mark Dayton has proposed an increase in tourism funding from the state.

Explore Minnesota Tourism officials say the current tourism marketing budget for Duluth is 8 point three million dollars a year.

"This will move us up anywhere between 14 to 16 million a year," John Edmun, Director of Explore Minnesota, said.

If passed during the legislative session, those funds would be allocated for marketing purposes.

Explore Minnesota has partnered with the City of Duluth, in the first partnership of its kind in the state.

They've created an advertisement that is airing on TV stations across Minnesota.

Justin Reis, NNC.