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WDIO-TV Video: COVID-19 impacts on Northland tourism

Apr 18, 2020 05:46AM ● By Editor

Watch the WDIO-TV Report here

Photo: WDIO-TV

By Brandon Weathers of WDIO-TV News - April 18, 2020

COVID-19 is having significant impacts on the local tourism industry.

Visit Duluth president and CEO Anna Tanski said, "Between meetings, conventions, sporting events, competitions, concerts, entertainment events, and consumer shows like the Home Show, we've already exceeded $3 million in lost revenue there."

Tanski said Duluth hotels are on par with the national trend, reflecting around 20% of the occupancy typical of this time of year. This steep drop in visitors has a domino effect on restaurants and retail store.

COVID-19 impacts on Northland tourism

Photo: WDIO-TV

For resorts on large lakes such as High Banks on Lake Winnibigoshish, the pandemic follows a challenging winter for tourism.

High Banks Resort owner Kim Leonhardt said, "We got through our ice fishing season suffering significant losses, and then we slid right into COVID-19."

They're hoping federal relief will help them make up those losses. Leonhardt said, "We are going through that application process and keeping our fingers crossed that we do qualify."

Meanwhile, another resort of the same name on Fish Lake had better luck with ice conditions. Hi-Banks Resort owner Tim Wagner said, "It was a decent winter for us."

As fishing opener approaches, both resorts are booked full and hoping to stay that way.

Wagner said, "Our landing will be open on Fishing Opener, depending upon what gets said or what happens." Leonhardt said, "We are still remaining optimistic. We are looking forward to a good summer season, and there are just so many uncertainties right now."

With fishing opener three weeks away, and Memorial Day Weekend three weeks after that, how the COVID-19 situation plays out in that time will have major implications for Northland tourism.

Tanski said, "Our industry is hurting so badly, and we are prepared and ready to welcome visitors back once it's safe to do so."

To read the original story and see related reporting, follow this link to the WDIO_TV website.

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