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Tanski to step down from Visit Duluth

The move comes after the city chose to give most of its tourism marketing dollars to a Twin Cities firm.

FILE: Anna Tanski
Visit Duluth President and CEO Anna Tanski poses for a photograph Feb. 19, 2014. Steve Kuchera / File / Duluth News Tribune
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The head of Duluth's tourism bureau is stepping down, months after the city of Duluth redirected much of its budget to an Edina-based marketing firm.

Anna Tanski, the CEO and president of Visit Duluth, announced in a news release Friday that she would be leaving Dec. 31, the day her contract expires. Tanski joined Visit Duluth as director of sales in 2005 and has served as president and CEO since February 2014.

In October, the city finalized its plan to cut its tourism tax allocation to Visit Duluth by more than 56% — from $1.5 million to $650,000 — up from an original proposal of $400,000. Visit Duluth will continue to handle convention coordination and visitor center operations. Bellmont Partners, the new marketing firm Duluth has hired to market the city as a tourist destination, will receive $1.8 million.

“As Duluth’s hospitality industry emerges from the challenges brought on by the pandemic, I feel it’s the right time to step aside and pave the way for a new leader at Visit Duluth,” Tanski said. “Tourism is beginning to recover in Duluth and as this organization embarks on a newly defined mission, it makes sense to onboard a leader with a vision to fulfill these objectives and carry the industry forward.”

Duluth Mayor Larson has previously said that while spending by tourists has been increasing, it hadn't kept up with inflation. She also said Visit Duluth “didn’t show” capabilities Bellmont was able to on ways to better connect the city's residents and guests.

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In the release, Visit Duluth said it would soon be releasing the job posting, which would adjust the role to fit the organization's new direction.

"The Visit Duluth Board of Directors is currently crafting the new leadership position based on the scope of work awarded to the organization by the City of Duluth," Visit Duluth said.

Last month, the Minnesota Association of Conventions and Visitors Bureaus awarded her the Roger Toussaint Award, its highest honor.

“Whether it is convening tourism leaders, testifying at the Minnesota Legislature or U.S. Congress, or fundraising for the tourism industry, Anna Tanski has been an effective voice and engaged advocate for our industry for 30 years. Anna is an outstanding leader and respected by her peers for her knowledge of the meetings, events and the tourism industry,” Tim Zunker, incoming chair of the group, said in a news release.

This story was edited at 4:37 p.m. to correct a typographical error on Tanski's surname and at 5:37 p.m. to correct the names of the Minnesota Association of Conventions and Visitors Bureaus and its Roger Toussaint Award. It was originally posted at 3:18 p.m. on Nov. 19. The News Tribune regrets the errors.

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