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Region’s tourism potential being tapped

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Darryl Lewis, the person in charge of community planning for Duluth, Mn., spoke Friday at the “Northern Networks” trade conference here to explain his department’s outlook on tourism.

“We’re a crossroads," he noted of people travelling east and west and north and south en route to destinations. ”And we’re looking to attract them for one or two-night stays.

Lewis said they also are looking to establish regional alliances to extend the stay of tourists in the area.

“In the tourism industry, we are each other’s guests," he stressed. ”When someone comes to Fort Frances from Duluth, they are your guest and when you come to Duluth, we look at you being our guest.

“We see our next challenge as developing the ‘Lake Superior Region’ that will go beyond attracting the 15-20 million people in our immediate area,” he added.

But in developing attractions in his community, Lewis looked at the benefit it brought to local citizens. Noting the riverfront development with its walkways here in Fort Frances, he said Duluth had done much the same to promote its waterfront—and the biggest benefit was to local citizens.

“Good tourism development will enhance the quality of life of the residents of your community,” he noted.

Meanwhile, Dave Dumke, of the Wisconsin Counties Association, spoke about the steps taken to promote northern Wisconsin tourist attractions.

“We are looking for higher-quality tourists who are prepared to spend higher dollars,” he noted, adding their first task was to change the mindset of counties battling each other to get a tourist to come.

“No one county had the resources to entertain tourists for a week," he said. "No area had linked up with other areas. The answer was to promote regionally.”

One of their first projects was to develop bus travel around a region—namely northern Wisconsin, Michigan’s upper peninsula, Ontario, and northeastern Minnesota.

“We put together a package, found the bus company, made arrangements for places to stay and and things to see," Dumke explained. "We set the price and receive the royalty.”

The northern Wisconsin counties were the first to promote their regional tour in Germany.

“What we’re selling to is the world," he stressed. "There is no reason we can’t extend tours through International Falls.”

One of the things the Wisconsin counties learned this year is that the business of following the changing of the leaves in the New England states has lodgings filled—and people being denied access to tours to see the fall colours.

“We’ve invited those tour operators to sell their excess demand into our area, promoting the change of colours [up here],” he added.

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