Column: Choose to ‘fly Duluth’While most of Duluth’s 3.5 million annual visitors travel by automobile, a growing number can be attracted by airline service. There’s already data proving certain inbound traffic spikes during the summer season.
By: Terry Mattson, For the Budgeteer News
While most of Duluth’s 3.5 million annual visitors travel by automobile, a growing number can be attracted by airline service. There’s already data proving certain inbound traffic spikes during the summer season.
What’s more, the new state-of-the-art LEED-silver-certified airport terminal makes air travel even more attractive to those who call this area home. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
Approximately 10 years ago, planning for a new world-class terminal began. Through the diligent efforts of visionary local leaders, state and federal officials, and Duluth Airport Authority board members and staff, the project was realized earlier this year.
Kudos to all making the new facility possible.
Everyone in our region can be very proud of the convenient, first-class accommodations now available at Duluth International Airport. Business- people, families and leisure travelers can not only reach other destinations more efficiently, but we also offer a lasting, positive first impression of what our region offers visitors.
Over the past several months I had the pleasure of learning more about air service, cargo and expansion at the airport while serving on a committee targeting strategies to increase airport use. In addition to discussing primary ways to make Duluth International a more obvious alternative for Duluthians driving to Minneapolis to catch a flight, we later began brainstorming of possibilities for increasing inbound travel.
My basic message is that not only did we find optimism in having a tremendous opportunity to regain local loyalty to Duluth International, we believe Duluth can become more of a destination than it already is.
While Duluth’s new facility serves as a critical transportation center of gravity for our region, the challenges ahead are complex. We are not alone. Local outbound travel from non-major hub airports, such as Duluth, is common nationwide. When flying out of Duluth I encourage you to consider the following:
• Always check DLH before making the decision. Just because it didn’t work out one time doesn’t mean it won’t work this time.
• Price of your automobile fuel
• Wear and tear on your vehicle
• Parking costs
• The value of your personal time
The Duluth Airport Authority is on your side and continues to monitor trends. Rest assured that the DAA will provide feedback to carriers while discussing new opportunities in an airline industry that experiences constant and dramatic changes.
In the meantime, Visit Duluth is committed to partnering with the DAA in securing local marketing matches for the application of a federal transportation grant bolstering our local economy. With the help of Visit Duluth, the City of Duluth and private partners we are targeting the Chicago area as a viable air travel market for increased business here.
Combined with Governor Mark Dayton and the state legislature’s dramatic boost in Explore Minnesota Tourism promotional funding, from approximately $8- to $14 million annually, the stars and planets could line up for a Chicago presence. Chicago is a staggeringly expensive media market previously out of touch for Duluth and even the state.
By choosing to fly out of Duluth, you can make a big difference. It provides the DAA the ability to talk with more airlines about additional frequencies and new destinations. In order to compete nationally for new or additional air service, we need the demand to support it.
Last year, 322,208 passengers flew in and out of the airport. It was the second busiest passenger-year in the airport’s history. There are currently more airlines and options than ever before.
That’s something to celebrate. I encourage you to “fly Duluth.”
Terry Mattson is the president and CEO of Visit Duluth, the city’s convention and visitors bureau, and is responsible for leading the official destination marketing efforts. Contact Mattson by telephone at 722-4011 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.