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WDIO-TV Report: Coronavirus concerns take toll on Duluth businesses' revenue

Mar 15, 2020 07:11AM ● By Editor

Watch the WDIO-TV Report here

While it is too soon to tell how big of an impact the coronavirus could have on the revenue of restaurants, hotels and local businesses, Visit Duluth says they are hoping for the best.  Photo: WDIO-TV


By Emily Ness of WDIO-TV News - March 15, 2020


We are approaching a time of year when many come to the Northland for conferences, sporting events and spring break. But, the coronavirus is already having an impact, leaving some worried about the tourism economy.

Visit Duluth said that April is typically their busiest month in terms of conventions, but unfortunately, four conventions scheduled to meet at the DECC have canceled or postponed and six more conventions are pending. This is in addition to UMD canceling their hockey tournament this weekend.

“We’re hearing from our hotel and restaurant partners that they are definitely feeling an impact,” Anna Tankski, President/CEO of Visit Duluth said.

While it is too soon to tell how big of an impact the coronavirus could have on the revenue of restaurants hotels and local businesses Visit Duluth says they are hoping for the best

While it is too soon to tell how big of an impact the coronavirus could have on the revenue of restaurants, hotels and local businesses, Visit Duluth says they are hoping for the best.

While it is too soon to tell how big of an impact the coronavirus could have on the revenue of restaurants, hotels and local businesses, Visit Duluth says they are hoping for the best.

“It literally changes day by day and hour by hour and we are in close communication with the state tourism office who is also monitoring this as a statewide level,” Tanski said.

One local business taking precautions is Grandma’s.

Tony Boen, Director of Operations at Grandma's says that the restaurant has removed condiments from tables. They are sanitizing condiments in between uses, along with menus and commonly used spaces more frequently.

“Restaurants are one of the more highly regulated businesses or industries as far as sanitation and safety goes so we’re just stepping up those things even further,” Boen said.

Additionally, Boen says Grandma’s is asking employees to stay home if they are sick and communicating closely with other businesses.

“None of us are afraid to reach out to one another and say: ‘Hey, what are you doing?’ We’re a pretty close group and while we should be in competition, we’re more in cooperation these days,” Boen said.

According to Boen, losing the hockey games will result in a bit of a down turn, but the restaurant has accepted this and remain hopeful.

“I do think that there will be some travel from the cities from spring breakers that were maybe planning on going South,” Boen said.

A change of travel plans applied to one South Dakota couple who was planning on going to New York, but decided to come to Duluth instead.

“It’s a smaller city than what we come from and definitely smaller than New York so we thought it would be a pretty safe place to come for a getaway,” Thad Titze of South Dakota said. “I think for all of these states that are in the middle of the U.S., the spread has been slower so it gives all of us time to prepare and make plans and kind of slow down the pace of everyday life which is probably good for us.”

Titze said the spread of coronavirus could be scarier for younger people because they haven’t lived through something like this before.

“I think everyone has a responsibility to at least kind of try to slow the spread of it,” Titze said.

Friends visiting Duluth from Michigan said that back home, concern is more heightened.

“We were visiting. We’re on our way home and we just keep getting calls to pick up toilet paper so we look like hoarders, but it’s really for like my mom and my daughters and teachers that at school,” Bethann Hiler of Michigan said. “The kids don’t have school for a month and there’s going to be a lot of toilet paper used, so two of my daughters have birthdays so I said happy birthday, that’s what you’re getting.”

Despite concern back home, Cristen Zattlin of Michigan said that she is not afraid of falling ill.

“We went to the Mall of America yesterday and there was like nobody there and that was kind of cool. You know, traffic isn’t bad,” Zattlin said.

In the time being, Visit Duluth will continue to keep track of revenue and businesses will continue to exercise precautions in regard to the potential spread of coronavirus.

As for larger events, such as, Grandma's Marathon and Homegrown Music Festival, Visit Duluth says they are in close communication with organizers.

“We want people to know that Duluth is open for business, that it is safe to travel within Minnesota and if you take the precautions and follow the recommendations, you could have a really great and healthy visit coming here,” Tanksi said.


To read the original article and see related reporting, follow this link to the WDIO-TV website.  https://www.wdio.com/duluth-minnesota-news/coronavirus-business-impact-/5673986/?cat=10335

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