Travel Superior bows out of tourism promotion – Superior Telegram

Travel Superior bows out of tourism promotion - Superior Telegram

SUPERIOR — The tourism entity of the Superior-Douglas County Area Chamber of Commerce is taking a step back from promoting tourism in the area.

Travel Superior announced Wednesday, Aug. 31, that it is notified city leadership and members of the Tourism Development Commission that it is declining $40,000 in funding to help Travel Superior operate the Visitor Center at the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center, 305 Harbor View Parkway.

Travel Superior, the Superior-Douglas County visitor bureau, has operated a visitor information center in some form in Superior and Douglas County since 1964 and for the last 20 years in its current location.

“We do not intend to sign the grant agreement for Hotel/Motel Tax funding approved by the City Council on July 19, 2022,” said Taylor Pedersen, president and CEO of the Chamber and Travel Superior. “Further, we do not wish to receive funding from the city of Superior at this time, which we have previously recognized is mandated by state statute.”

This year, Travel Superior also requested no funding from Douglas County, which allocated $22,500 one year ago for tourism promotion in 2022.

“Ironically, this message comes exactly one year after a ‘call-to-action’ I sent to tourism stakeholders about possible changes in our local tourism process during 2021,” Pedersen wrote in an email to stakeholders Wednesday. “Since that time, the city of Superior has switched to a tourism commission structure of funding local tourism.”

Travel Superior participated in the request-for-proposal process to advertise and promote local tourism, but the city chose to award the $250,000, three-year contract to a Duluth ad agency, Swim Creative.

Subsequently, the organization applied for a grant to operate the Visitor Center, and was awarded $40,000, less than half of its $102,963 request to cover operations, branding and promotion, and payroll expenses.

The funding represents less than 10% of what Travel Superior received when it was contracted by the city to promote tourism in Superior and Douglas County using 70% of the room taxes collected by the city, Pedersen told tourism stakeholders.

“Moving forward, our board of directors feels it is best to part ways from this funding as we want what is best for local tourism into the future,” Pedersen wrote in a letter to the tourism development commission.

Travel Superior has continued to promote the region using reserve funds and will continue to use its reserve funds to operate a visitor information center with reduced operations through the end of 2022, Pedersen said.

Pedersen said he is proud of the Chamber’s record of promoting regional tourism.

“Since the Chamber’s rebranding of regional tourism efforts under the Travel Superior name in 2017, city of Superior hotel/motel tax collections increased an impressive 47%; 2021 was the best year on record for local tourism, despite some lingering COVID concerns,” he said. “And 2022 is anticipated to improve on those results.”

In his letter to commission members, Pedersen said Travel Superior has done due diligence and provided transparency as a steward in promoting tourism and were able to show many successes along the way.

“For 139 years, the Chamber of Commerce has worked closely with the community to enhance business success and citizen prosperity, and that’s what we continue to do as we transition out of tourism responsibilities,” said Pedersen. “We look forward to working with the city of Superior as a partner in other capacities, and sincerely hope the Tourism Development Commission will be thoughtful in its decisions and successful in its endeavors, as their success is our community’s success.”

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