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Tanski selected to take the helm at Visit Duluth
Some people live an entire lifetime without landing their perfect job. That’s not the case with Anna Tanski, who on Feb. 19 was named president and CEO of Visit Duluth.
“I was born and raised here and chose to stay,” said the 45-year-old Superior native. “I love the work. This is my dream come true.”
From 2005 until last month, she served as the group’s director of sales, traveling the convention circuit to promote Duluth as a destination for business meetings. During a 14-year period before that, Tanski served as sales director for the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.
She was among 29 persons who applied for the Visit Duluth post, which was vacated last year by 28-year-Visit Duluth veteran Terry Mattson.
“The experience and proven success of Anna rose to the top,” said Gerry Goldfarb, the group’s board chair.
Her new position comes with considerable responsibility. Tanski oversees a full-time staff of 11 persons and a $2.1 million budget.
“We have a lot of great momentum going and I think we’re on the cusp of even greater things. I’m very fortunate to be here at a time when Duluth is riding high,” she said.
Her previous work not only helped position Tanski for the city’s top tourism post, but also helped position the city to become such a popular destination.
“Meetings and conventions are a vital part of tourism,” she said, because once people visit the city on a business trip, they often want to return on their personal time. Also a growing trend, she noted, is for business travelers to tack an extra day or two onto their work visit, using the added time to take in a few tourist attractions.
During her tenure in tourism-related jobs, Tanski has witnessed a steady transformation of the city, particularly along the waterfront. The DECC has grown from an arena-auditorium venue to a magnet for conventions, meetings and region-wide trade conventions. Lodging properties and restaurants have replaced auto parts stores and scrap yards in Canal Park. Groomed walkways allow visitors to get “up close and personal" with Lake Superior.
“There has been a huge amount of private investment in local amenities. This industry has become a vital part of our local economy,” she said.
The wildly popular Tall Ships Festival (held last summer) is the most recent event that’s fueling her optimism. Such gatherings, which combine heritage with Duluth’s waterfront backdrop, are here to stay, she said.
But it’s also important for existing attractions to be refreshed and new ones developed, she said.
“Our partners have been stepping up with new attractions at Spirit Mountain and Glensheen Mansion,” she said. Additionally, the city’s growing microbrewing industry is attracting new visitors.
Further, “We’re positioning ourselves to be one of the top destinations in the Midwest for bike trails,” she said. “We’re poised for tremendous growth.”
Like existing tourists, trail riders will be drawn to the Arrowhead by Lake Superior. But unlike today’s visitors, who embrace traditional brick-and-mortar amenities, the next generation likely will be more active and may seek to stay at campgrounds or similar green properties, Tanski explained. Technology also may play a greater role in their travels.
Some of those factors will be gauged in an upcoming visitors’ survey. Data will be compared with similar information collected during past assessments.
Tanski’s first challenge may come in the form of Superior Street’s reconstruction, estimated to begin in two years. Visit Duluth will work with other local organizations, she said, to help visitors reach their destinations with as little disruption as possible.Previous BusinessNorth Exclusives Articles:
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