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Messages from the President

Tourism brings the world to us

By: Anna Tanski | May 10, 2017


During the first full week in May, Duluth joins communities nationwide in celebrating National Travel and Tourism Week to create awareness of travel’s impact. Many are familiar with the positive effects of travel on our work performance, relationships and well-being. However, it’s travel’s economic power that deserves the spotlight.

Duluth is fortunate our visitor base crosses a diverse spectrum, heavily relying on leisure but bolstered by those traveling for business meetings or attending a convention. People traveling for pleasure constitutes the largest visitor base due to the many reasons we travel for fun, including family vacations, romantic getaways, youth sporting events, outdoor recreation or a cultural performance.

During the average workday, how busy would hotels and restaurants be without conventions at the DECC? Realistically, residents don’t dine out frequently enough to sustain local eateries, even more the case for hotels and lodging. Corporate and meetings travel is critical as it generates year-round demand for these businesses.

Try to picture our city’s landscape without tourism elements or visitors present. What would Canal Park look like? Would the DECC exist in its current expanse? How many hotels, shops and restaurants could survive? Where would the jobs associated with this industry be absorbed?

Not to mention the amenities and services that locals enjoy would be vastly depleted, affecting the quality of life we’ve grown accustomed to in our booming tourism town.

Debate swirls around the value of hospitality industry jobs, often dismissed as low-wage and insignificant. Tell that to 16,000 people employed in our region, including industrious college students working their way through school, a parent in need of flexible hours or those of us who’ve made a career of it. According to the U.S. Travel Association, two in five workers whose first job was in the travel industry are now earning more than $100,000 per year.

As research firm Longwoods International outlined, Duluth welcomes 6.7 million visitors who annually contribute $319 million in direct spending. This creates a $957 million economic impact when every dollar turns over a minimum of three times. Visitor pays the business, owner pays employee, employee pays rent, bills, etc. Statistics and studies aside, there’s no disputing the incredible impact tourism has across our region.

Visit Duluth invites the public to join us at our annual luncheon 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, May 9 at Clyde Iron Works. This event is held as part of Travel Rally Day where we share our 2016 annual report and outline upcoming marketing initiatives. Dan Russell provides the keynote address as the final stop on his farewell tour before retirement. More info is at visitduluth.com/membership.

Granted, the entire world doesn’t revolve around tourism, but travel takes us around the revolving world.