Duluth Tourism Picking Up Amid Pandemic

DULUTH, Minn.– After a slow start to the tourism season due to COVID-19, Visit Duluth is working to try and help bring people to the city this summer.

“We’re not there yet,” said Visit Duluth President Anna Tanski. “We are seeing signs of recovery however.”

Visit Duluth says tourism-reliant businesses in the city have been doing its best to adjust during the pandemic.

While hotels have been picking up, bars and restaurants are still behind because they’ve been operating at 50 percent indoor capacity. Other attractions have only been open for a few weeks, unsure of if the situation will improve.

Visit Duluth has been trying to promote tourism through the pandemic for this summer and the rest of the year. Their tourism promotions help bring customers to businesses who don’t have the means to promote themselves during this time.

Visit Duluth’s message is simple: Be Here.

“Lake Superior is big enough for everyone and it’s time for people to make new memories,” said Tanski. “Those are the two themes that we are incorporating into all of our campaigns right now.”

They have been doing it with limited resources as city addresses its financial troubles due to the pandemic. Budget cuts forced the organization to furlough over half of their staff.

Visit Duluth is mainly operating on the $160,000 in grants and loans they got through the small business assistance program.

Revenue coming from taxes on lodging and beverage won’t be much help right now because there is a two month delay for the funds.

Despite the small amount of staff and funding, Visit Duluth is helping keep one of the city’s most important industries going.

“It is the second largest industry in Duluth’s economy and it’s a critical part of our overall economy. So we take that responsibility very seriously,” said Tanski.

Visit Duluth also says tourism in the city goes beyond leisure tourism, including events like conventions and sports.

Visit Duluth is hoping for PPP reform so 501c6 organizations like Visit Duluth can receive federal funding.

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