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Messages from the President

The Purpose Behind Travel - June

By: Anna Tanski | June 2, 2015

Perhaps the fact I work in the tourism industry motivates me to learn the reasons people choose to travel. An easy answer is the desire to escape the daily grind of all consuming hectic schedules and reconnect with loved ones. Making time to relax, unwind and catch a breath is something most of us can relate to.

Other significant but less mainstream reasons people travel include medical treatment, visiting students at a local college or university or conducting business. This type of commerce quietly occurs seven days a week all year long which adds up in the long run.

In Duluth we’re fortunate for direct access to top quality healthcare that draws people from around the region. Recently, while sitting with my mom as she received her first infusion of chemotherapy, I witnessed firsthand the impact generated by medical tourism.

Meandering along the extensive network of hallways, connected to various wings on multiple floors, it was difficult to avoid overhearing personal conversations taking place room after room about how long their loved one would be hospitalized, whether they should book a hotel or where they could go eat outside the hospital. Hundreds of similar scenarios playing out every day.

Hospitals provide restaurant and delivery options in family waiting areas. Hotel brochures offering steeply discounted rates for family of patients are also prominently featured. Many properties offer complimentary shuttle service to the hospital. Whether it’s a planned procedure or unexpected trauma, these important resources and services assist medical travelers during their visit.

Approximately two thirds of students at the University of Minnesota Duluth come from the Twin Cities. Factor in the College of St. Scholastica, Lake Superior College, Duluth Business University and other programs and it amounts to thousands of parents, grandparents and family members converging on Duluth to visit their student. Welcome Week, Parents Weekend and Commencement send occupancy soaring. Throughout the school year there’s a steady flow of family streaming to Duluth on a regular basis, with many hotels offering special parent discounts.

Virtually every company operating in Duluth contributes to the general business sector of tourism. Sales representatives travel to Duluth calling on businesses; seminars and trainings draw from across the region. Every type of organization, ranging from large corporations to small non-profits have the need for face to face meetings. Technology creates efficiencies, but nothing can replace the value of connecting in person. More vital than the volume of corporate travel is the timing "typically business people travel midweek when hotels and restaurants tend to have more availability.

These often unheralded segments of tourism supplement the leisure travel powerhouse that creates the foundation for Duluth’s hospitality industry. As we ramp up for the busy summer season, it’s important to remember every visitor to our city is not here for a traditional vacation getaway, but regardless of the reason for their travel, we’re so grateful they chose Duluth as their destination!


Anna Tanski, President/CEO