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Duluth Experience looks to lure European cyclists

Jim van Druten of Duluth competes in one leg of the Duluth Enduro Series on the Duluth Traverse trail in Lester Park in 2014. The Duluth Experience is marketing the Duluth Traverse to European cyclists this month. News Tribune file photo

If you start hearing Dutch on the Duluth Traverse, the mission was a success.

The Duluth Experience CEO and co-founder David Grandmaison will be in the Netherlands and Belgium this month promoting the city's renowned mountain biking and, more specifically, his company's mountain bike tour package.

"Once I get talking about the Duluth Traverse trails, Lake Superior, the Northwoods of Minnesota ... their interest starts to grow," Grandmaison wrote in an email Monday. "Duluth has so much to offer these travelers. The critical piece is getting a chance to tell them about our city and what we have to offer."

The International Mountain Bicycling Association has already given Duluth an international edge — the city is one of six "Gold-Level Ride Centers" in the world — and Duluth boasts more single track than any other city in the country.

"Unique and relatively unknown destinations like Duluth are in high demand," Theo Jorna, executive director of Dutch tourism agency Holcus Buiten, said in a press release.

Grandmaison will make the Zenith City's case at the Fiets en Wandelbeurs conferences in Utrecht, Netherlands, on Saturday and Sunday and in Ghent, Belgium, the following weekend.

He went to the event in Amsterdam in 2015 to help build the best concept to attract foreign visitors.

"I spent a lot of time talking with travelers, tour operators and other experts in the cycling tourism industry to learn how to create a tour package that appealed to the international travel community," Grandmaison said. "This year we have a great tour package to offer fair attendees."

The Duluth Traverse Mountain Bike Adventure features seven days of biking and includes airport pickup, hotels, tours, equipment and meals.

Duluth International Airport has kicked around the idea of fielding flights full of tourists from Europe, and building demand through services like The Duluth Experience can help make that a reality.

"This essential service is the centerpiece of our international marketing efforts focused in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany," said Anna Tanski, president of Visit Duluth.

Brooks Johnson

Brooks is an investigative reporter and business columnist at the Duluth News Tribune.

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