Outdoor tourism in Duluth continues to grow

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According to the City of Duluth, 12% of all jobs in Duluth and 13% of all businesses are related to the hospitality and tourism industry. Outdoor tourism has seen an increase since the pandemic. 

“Recognizing how being outdoors is something that’s good for yourself, like physically, but also like mentally is a big thing,” said Day Tripper of Duluth Co-Owner Matti Erpstad. “I think people are just recognizing that there’s a lot of great outdoor resources that we have and trying to take advantage of that tourism.”

Day Tripper of Duluth takes groups kayaking along the North Shore. Although there are visitors from other states and even countries, many just want to enjoy summertime away from the cities. 

“The biggest percentage of people come from the Twin Cities area,” said Erpstad. “It’s hundreds and hundreds of thousands, it kind of varies. But, you know, we’ll start things sometimes in April, May and June, July and August come in and it’s just, you know, lots of people every day, basically.”

The experience of seeing Lake Superior is enjoyed as many kayakers return for more trips year after year. 

“We have some people that come every year like mother and daughter families, things like that. There’s always new people, but often people have a positive experience and they want to try it at a different location or do the same tour again,” said Erpstad. “Being a season-based business, every single day around, things change. So people are wanting to see the same place from a different perspective, whether it’s May versus August, it’s kind of a different world sometimes.”

Visitors are more than welcome in Duluth. 

“We are inviting travelers to come as you are, to love it like we do here in Duluth, and to watch how the traction of this story has traveled across the state, traveled across the country, and really cementing us as a community where people can have a variety of experiences,” said Mayor Emily Larson.

The City of Duluth announced on Thursday that the Duluth Visitor Center will be relocating to Grandma’s Restaurant in Canal Park.

“There can only be synergy and benefits for everyone involved here, obviously for the restaurant or obviously going to see some new customers with new interest here for the visitor center,” said Grandma’s Restaurants President Brian Daugherty. “They’re going to be in the heart of the sightseeing district and most importantly for the visitor, they’re going to have the benefit of a one stop shop being in the heart of Canal Park and having the opportunity to have some food and beverage.”

In a partnership with Visit Duluth, the Duluth Visitor Center will open inside the restaurant on Memorial Day weekend.

“We are going to make the visitor experience a more concierge style in this location. So there are going to be more services, more information, and less gift shops. We’re going to have a nice coffee table, sit down, experience a really nice, decorated, homey style,” said Visit Duluth President Daniele Villa. “So we will try to give a nice one stop shop for visitors to get as many information as they want, not only for Canal Park, not only for downtown, but for the entire Duluth community.”