Connecting communities

Plans for the Prospectors Loop ATV trail continue to advance. A trail connecting Babbitt, Ely, Embarrass, Soudan, Tower, and state parks in the area will bring riders from outside the area and will provide another activity opportunity for visitors and seasonal residents already here.
But the trail may do more than that. It may trigger those who wish to optimize the East Range’s tourism industry. We’re for that -- a diverse job base here certainly should include tourism.
Tourism does best in areas where many offerings attract and retain visitors. Our area has many, but are they marketed as a package? Instead of thinking of four communities, what would an area tourism marketing campaign look like?
Imagine a cooperative, coordinated tourism marketing thrust that attracted visitors (and don’t forget seasonal residents -- the longer they’re here and the more they do, the more dollars get spent here) to the East Range’s offerings.
A list of them all is impressive and combined exceeds the sum of the individual items. Consider, in no particular order, three state parks, the International Wolf Center, North American Bear Center, three golf courses including one of national renown, hundreds of lakes accessible to all from secluded ponds to medium-sized lakes with cozy resorts, to big boat lakes like Vermilion, Birch, and Burntside, and the interesting White Iron Chain, museums, unique shopping, galleries, a range of restaurants -- some traditional, some quirky, some gourmet, major events like the Blueberry/Art festival and Peter Mitchell Days, baseball tournaments, fishing contests, music festivals, concerts, and of course, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.
Imagine, for example, the area could coordinate the events such that there was something every weekend during the season. Imagine that there were multi-museum ticket packages or golf packages, or even hospitality packages.
Our season is short and there is competition from all around the state for tourism dollars. By marketing the area we may attract more visitors, get them to stay longer, come more often, and -- well, why not say it -- spend more money here.
As the Prospectors Loop may sew our cluster of similar communities together in a new way, an area marketing mindset might sew up more tourism dollars.