UPDATE: Duluth City Council Approves Funding for Cruise Ships to Enter the Twin Ports

Approval passed at the City Council meeting for $25,000 from the Tourism Tax Fund to fund new technology for Border Patrol. 

UPDATE: The Duluth City Council unanimously approved $25,000 to fund border patrol gear for cruise ships to enter the Twin Ports.

DULUTH, Minn.- Cruise ships are planning on coming to Duluth by next summer but the Port Authority needs to purchase U.S. Customs and Border Control equipment to make it happen.

Monday night they’re seeking approval at the City Council meeting for $25,000 from the Tourism Tax Fund to fund the new technology.  This equipment is needed in order for cruise ships to come into the Twin Ports. If this passes the funding would go towards a cruise ship customs clearance office at the Duluth waterfront, which officials tell us would be much like what airline passengers go through before flying.

Victory Cruise Lanes has two arrivals planned for Duluth next August with a minimum of eight vessels in 2020.

Officials with Visit Duluth tell us this would be a huge economic oppurtunity for Duluth, estimating the average passenger will spend $200 a day.

“You know this really helps establish Duluth to another visitor base that we aren’t currently serving and it really helps develop economic growth and activity in our community,” Visit Duluth President/CEO Anna Tanski said.

To put these plans in place the Ports Authority must have $85,000 next month to make a financial commitment with the Customs and Border Patrol. A federal grant application has been submitted but the Port Authority won’t learn of the outcome until the end of the year, therefore after the deadline.

They are also asking that DEDA and the city of Duluth along with the Port Authority to come up with that money ahead of time, just in case the grant falls through.

Officials tell us with travelers potentially coming from foreign ports purchasing this technology is a must.

“They will require clearance which means that we need the IT infrastructure to bring them into the United States and have that secure border crossing that we all want,” Ports Authority director of business development Kate Ferguson said.

Cruising in the Twin Ports began back in 1850, but the last cruise to come through was nearly five years ago.

Officials tell us if the funding is turned down at the City Council meeting Monday night, there is no backup plan. Stay with FOX21 for more updates.

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