m3058 BC-MN-GasPrices-Resorts 1stLd-Writethru 04-07 0413
High gas prices might help northern Minnesota destinations
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ST. PAUL (AP) — Tourism officials in northeastern Minnesota say rising gas prices probably won’t hurt resort business — and might even help.
Cheyenne Denny of the Iron Range Convention and Visitors Bureau said Range visitors typically come from the Twin Cities, and rising gas prices mean people are staying closer to home and not traveling out of state.
"They’re starting to look in-state for tourist destinations," Denny said. "So, it really hasn’t affected us in the past, and I really don’t think it’ll affect us with the upcoming busy tourist season."
Denny said such attractions as an all-terrain vehicle park give the Iron Range an advantage over other parts of Minnesota.
Duluth also depends on visitors from the Twin Cities. Gene Shaw with Visit Duluth said the increased cost of a trip from the Twin Cities to Duluth is not that much and probably won’t deter visitors.
"You’re looking at a cost increase from a trip from Minneapolis up here to maybe be in the neighborhood of $10 to $30. We don’t believe that will be enough of an impact to stop anybody," Shaw said.
And if there is a tourism drop-off, Shaw said Duluth can make up for it with new events such as an air show and a summer visit by three tall ships.
"People still are going to go someplace and do something. They have to get away," Shaw explained.
He also noted that economic stimulus checks from the government will arrive just before the tourist season. That could be more than $2,000 for some families.
Those high gas prices could also help resort owners in the northern Minnesota woods, said Lee Kerfoot who runs the Gunflint Lodge, a historic resort on the upper reach of the Gunflint Trail.
He said his Twin Cities customers might skip an expensive flight somewhere out-of-state for time spent in the Minnesota wilderness.
"And so people are going to say ’you know what? These airline tickets are $400 or $500 apiece, and there’s four of us. There’s no way. And, we’re going to drive up north and we’re going go to a a resort, and we’re going to save money doing it actually. It’s going to be a lot cheaper’," Kerfoot said.
Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mpr.org