Your City, Your Business: Culture and tourism travel together
Does culture play a part in the tourism industry? Garrison Keillor put it best when he addressed the 1995 White House Conference on Travel & Tourism. He said, "We need to think about cultural tourism because really there is no other kind of t...
Does culture play a part in the tourism industry? Garrison Keillor put it best when he addressed the 1995 White House Conference on Travel & Tourism. He said, "We need to think about cultural tourism because really there is no other kind of tourism. It's what tourism is. ... People come for our culture."
Just one month ago, Duluth was one of four communities in the country to be selected by the National Trust for Historic Preservation to receive special funding and assistance to assess, initiate and evaluate a preservation-based economic development initiative. This is quite an honor. Our strong heritage tourism base, strong preservation ethic and wealth of historic landmarks and properties were three of the selection criteria.
"A plus for Duluth is that there are extra people in town --tourists -- who are eating and shopping here," said Mac Nichols, director of preservation development initiatives for the NTHP. "That's something that other communities don't always have, but they want. And that's a bonus for Duluth."
Carolyn Brackett, heritage tourism specialist for the NTHP, said another one of Duluth's strengths is having a very active and effective convention and visitor's bureau.
"Duluth has a CVB that stretches its dollars and gets the most bang for the buck," she said. "They do what it takes to get visitors to Duluth. In comparison to other CVBs of the same size, Duluth's is very underfunded. I think advocacy for funding of the CVB should be very important in Duluth."
And who travels to experience culture? According to the Travel Industry Association of America, nearly 93 million Americans say they included at least one cultural, arts, heritage or historic activity or event while traveling in the past year. In addition, about one-third of historic/cultural travelers say they added extra time to their trip because of a cultural/historic place or event.
Fortunately, historic sites, art galleries, museums, cultural events and festivals, ethnic communities and architectural treasures abound in Duluth.
Lake Superior itself offers the rich history of the voyageurs and Native Americans who used the lake to transport goods, feed their families and conduct business. Today, over 1,000 freighters and cruise ships sail into our harbor and under our world famous Aerial Lift Bridge annually. In 2005, the bridge will celebrate its 100th anniversary. The Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center in Canal Park showcases this amazing maritime story.
The St. Louis County Heritage and Arts Center, known locally as the Depot, is our city's cultural centerpiece. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and houses nine arts and cultural organizations. Among those are the Duluth Playhouse, the oldest community theater in Minnesota; the Lake Superior Railroad Museum, one of the largest and most respected railroad museums in the country; the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra, with beginnings in 1931; the St. Louis County Historical Society; and the Duluth Children's Museum, which was one of the earliest children's museums built in the United States.
Unique historic architecture can be found throughout our city. A drive along Superior Street highlights many buildings that depict the grand life of the rich lumber barons and mining magnates. Fitger's Brewery Complex is a perfect example. And don't forget the Glensheen Historic Estate, a 39-room Jacobean mansion built in 1908.
Duluth's rich past is also showcased at our many bed and breakfast inns. The inns were built at the turn of the 20th century by wealthy businessmen who spared no expense. At that time, Duluth was home to more millionaires per capita than any other city in the world. Known for their elaborate antiques and amenities, the inns offer warmth and unsurpassed hospitality.
Another wonderful way to experience our city's past is on our historic byways, trails and in our city parks throughout the town. From the Willard Munger Trail, to the Lakewalk, and along Skyline Drive to Lake Superior's North Shore Scenic Drive, our heritage comes to life.
To find out more about Duluth's historic sites and cultural events, call the Duluth Convention and Visitors Bureau at 722-4011, or log on to http://www.visitduluth.com .