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Partnerships work to pull tourism industry together

Renee Mattson, left, outgoing executive director of Spirit Mountain Recreation Area, chats with Konnie LaMay of Lake Superior Magazine at the Visit Duluth Annual Meeting. (Photos by Naomi Yaeger/Budgeteer News)

Visit Duluth held its annual luncheon May 6 at Spirit Mountain’s new Grand Avenue Chalet, located at the base of the ski hill.

“Spirit Mountain has been transformed into a true four season resort,” said Renee Matson, Spirit Mountain Recreation Area’s executive director, in her keynote address, which also served as a farewell speech. Earlier in the year she announced plans to resign at the end of May to move to the Twin Cities to support her husband, former Visit Duluth director Terry Mattson.

The room was full with approximately 180 attendees. Mattson mentioned that May 3-11 was National Tourism Week.

She said the progress made by Spirit Mountain and tourism in general would not have been possible without the partnership between businesses, administrations and area attractions.

“The reason I love this industry is the diversity and the enthusiasm,” she said. “It’s a fun industry.”

She stressed that personal relationships are paramount to the success of the tourism industry.

“I’ve been to weddings and, sadly, funerals,” she said. “I don’t think that translates to every business.”

Luncheon attendees were also greeted by Mark Privratsky, field representative with the Duluth office of Congressman Rick Nolan, and by a video of Amy Klobuchar, who touted the work she has done to get America known as a tourist destination, including a bill that reduces the paperwork for visas.

John Edman, chair and CEO of Explore Minnesota Tourism, spoke about the work done to get all of Minnesota seen as a tourist destination. He showed videos and slides of the new branding effort #onlyinMN. Travelers, tourists and residents are encouraged to share and tag their Minnesota experiences on Facebook and Twitter with #onlyinmn.

“It’s been a wild and crazy year,” said Gerry Goldfarb, Visit Duluth board chair. Previously he was vice president and did not expect to do much in that role, but then Terry Mattson resigned as executive director and Karen Pionk stepped down as board chair. Suddenly he had a lot to do.

Other speakers included Anna Tanski, Visit Duluth president/CEO and Mark Privratsky, field representative with the Duluth office of Congressman Rick Nolan.

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Naomi Yaeger

Naomi Yaeger is a freelance writer and the former editor of the Budgeteer. See her blog at www.DuluthDailyPhoto.com.

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