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Messages from the President

Higher Education Bolsters Tourism - September

By: Anna Tanski | September 18, 2016


Autumn is a glorious season in the Northland. Crisp mornings give way to warm, sun-filled afternoons that settle into the nip of cool nights. Vibrant foliage splashes hues of gold, orange and red creating a spectacular landscape that rivals any masterpiece.

Another sign the seasons have transitioned is the influx of students arriving to attend one of our regions higher education institutions. Throngs pouring in by the thousands.

Looking beyond noise complaints and keg parties, the student population is a boon for tourism on multiple levels. It starts with move-in as parents seek lodging for a night or two while their offspring get established in dorms or off-campus housing.

Local retailers are bombarded by shoppers seeking school supplies, household items and groceries to ensure their child is well stocked. Not to mention, students continue purchasing these essentials throughout the school year. No parent drop off would be complete without a departing dinner at a carefully selected restaurant. All this economic activity in a single whirlwind visit to Duluth. This scenario plays out repeatedly during return visits for special events, sports, homesick check-ins and finally, move out.

Earning their degree is the crowning achievement culminating with commencement ceremonies. Again, the annual impact is significant due to the volume of hotel rooms reserved and family celebrations at local establishments.

Higher education’s contributions to the tourism industry goes deeper than this first layer of benefits. The swelling student population helps ease the hospitality workforce shortage in retail, restaurants and hotels. Many students seek employment in the service industry due to flexible hours that accommodate school schedules, good pay and attractive work environments.

Visit Duluth’s convention sales team has partnered with faculty from every local campus to bring meetings to our city. In addition to their class load, these instructors volunteer to plan a conference in their respective field of expertise. These efforts showcase their college or university along with Duluth to an audience of their peers. Our evolving sports marketing initiatives are closely tied to collegiate sports as well.

We spent several out of town weekends touring campuses with our daughter, getting a flavor of the communities she was considering. Attracting the next freshman class is a highly competitive process. The ongoing, year-round efforts by local higher education recruitment ensures this beneficial cycle of student in-flow continues in Duluth.

Just as visitors have a multitude of spectacular locations to choose for vacation, students face the same decision-making process when selecting where to pursue their degree. Visit Duluth is committed to serving as a resource and active partner in marketing designed to create an emotional connection to Duluth.