Our view: Duluth can seize a chance to shineWhen you figure that about 3.5 million visitors a year roll through Duluth, accounting for $780 million of annual economic impact, a gathering of 340 Minnesotans over two days, dropping about $262,000, might seem rather insignificant.
When you figure that about 3.5 million visitors a year roll through Duluth, accounting for $780 million of annual economic impact, a gathering of 340 Minnesotans over two days, dropping about $262,000, might seem rather insignificant.
But consider that the group meeting and greeting today and tomorrow at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center — and staying in our hotels, eating in our restaurants and soaking up our sights — is made up of many of our state’s top tourism officials. And keep in mind that this is midweek and in February, a notoriously slow time for convention traffic.
The group is here for the annual Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference. The “future’s so bright” is the convention’s theme, a sentiment that can be applied specifically to Duluth for being picked after not playing host for about 15 years.
“It’s a great way to showcase Duluth to some pretty influential people,” Explore Minnesota Tourism’s Alyssa Ebel told the News Tribune Opinion page on Monday. “And this is our chance to highlight the state of the tourism industry in Minnesota, (which is) going good. Minnesota’s tourism industry generates approximately $12.5 billion in sales annually. … It’s big business.”
And the convention this week in Duluth is a big deal, Visit Duluth’s Gene Shaw told the Opinion page.
“It’s a good deal for us,” he said. “It’s a chance to bring all the tourism folks here. That can only be good for us. … It’s great networking. We’re all on the same boat. It’s all about, ‘How can we work together?’ ”
Despite nearly a quarter century of year-to-year growth (with the exception of recession-rattled 2009), and despite its 18,000 family-supporting local jobs, tourism too often is overlooked in Duluth. It’s certainly taken for granted.
That’s true statewide, too, even though tourism grew 54 percent between 2000 and 2012 as measured in leisure and hospitality gross sales, which increased from $8.1 billion to $12.5 billion. Travel and tourism in Minnesota generates more than $34 million a day and is responsible for more than 245,000 jobs, accounting for 11 percent of the state’s private-sector employment.
So there’s plenty to talk about at the DECC — and when attendees return home, assuming they like what they see of Duluth, and of all of us, while they’re here.