Visit Duluth:


Messages from the President

The Finer Art of Tourism - April

By: Anna Tanski | April 9, 2016

When I learn someone has just returned from a visit to New York City my first question is, “Did you get to see a Broadway show?” In a city with an abundance of iconic attractions, world renowned dining and exclusive retail, it’s this cultural encounter that’s come to define the pinnacle of the NYC visitor experience.

During our visit a few years ago, my husband and I took in two shows, the Museum of Modern Art and the NYPD Museum. Of course the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building and Today Show were fantastic, but our immersion into the vibrant arts scene was the highlight of our trip.

Duluth’s arts and culture community is thriving. High caliber productions at the Duluth Playhouse, rousing concerts from the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra, elegant performances by the Minnesota Ballet, Homegrown and the local music scene, improv, concert and art galleries galore. Diverse offerings which contribute to tourism and the city’s bottom line in a significant way.

Last fall the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council released a study conducted by Creative Minnesota which measured the economic impact of the arts on our region. It’s findings are impressive. With more than $36 million, Duluth ranks third in the state (behind Minneapolis and St. Paul respectively) for economic impact. Direct expenditures by local nonprofit arts organizations combined with audience related spending comprise this total.

Audience demographic showed 75 percent are local, attending an event in the region where they live and spending an average of nearly $20 above the price of their ticket. Not surprisingly, visitors spend more, averaging $44.96 per person on lodging, dining and transportation. 22.5 percent of out of town respondents indicated the primary reason for their trip was specifically to attend an arts/cultural event.

Nearly one-fourth(24.5 percent) of the annual attendance 835,898 were non-local, translating into more than 204,000 out of town visitors bringing dollars into our community they wouldn’t have otherwise spent. The complete study is available at

Duluth’s rebranding of the Historic Arts and Theater District in downtown provides new opportunities for promoting that section of the city to a growing segment of visitors seeking cultural entertainment experiences. The emerging arts scene in this district will be capped with the NorShor Theater renovation. Visit Duluth’s marketing initiatives are expanding in response to the progress being made in HART.

Clearly, arts and culture in all its various forms has Duluth’s tourism industry buzzing. Residents also benefit from volunteer opportunities, enrichment and exposure to broader experiences these organizations offer. Perhaps one day people returning from their Duluth getaway will be asked if they were able to take in a show during their visit.

Anna Tanski, President/CEO