When Visit Duluth’s new leader starts her job on February 20, she’ll have had a 23-year head start in selling Duluth around the world as a convention and tourism destination. So it will be a smooth transition when Anna Tanski moves from the Visit Duluth Director of Sales position she’s held since 2005 to become its President and CEO.
Tanski, 45, succeeds Terry Mattson, who left Visit Duluth in December 2013 after 28 years with the organization. Since then, Visit Duluth board member and former Grandma’s Marathon Executive Director Scott Keenan has served as Visit Duluth’s Interim Director.
“The Visit Duluth board sought to hire the best person available to continue building on Duluth’s tourism momentum, and there were many outstanding candidates who applied,” said Board Chair Gerry Goldfarb of the 29 applications that came in from a national search. “But despite the excellent qualifications of our applicants, the experience and proven success of Anna rose to the top.”
Prior to joining Visit Duluth nine years ago, Tanski had been Director of Sales at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center for 14 years.
“I’m humbled to have been chosen as Visit Duluth’s new President and CEO,” said Tanski, who will lead a staff of 11. “There’s a great team already in place here, Duluth is well positioned for further tourism growth and I’m looking forward to getting started.”
A native of Superior, Tanski graduated from UW-Superior with a degree in Communication and English. She and her husband, Jason, reside in Hermantown with their two children.
The calendar titled Celebrating Their Service pays homage to local historical photos that were taken during World War II or during that time frame. The calendar uses these historical images and inserts well known Duluth-Superior individuals to re-create the famous images.
Beginning today, the calendars can be purchased for $10 at any of the nine local Super One Foods Stores and will be available for purchase at the customer service desk.
“This is one of the very few fundraisers that the Bong Veterans Center does and because of the uniqueness of the calendar we hope that the calendar project will help fund many of the things that the Bong Veterans Center does in support of area veterans,” said Ryan Kern, of Kernz & Kompany.
The calendar features some very notable community members: Alan Klapmeier (Kestrel Aircraft), Steve Burgess (National Bank of Commerce), Daniel Fanning (City of Duluth), Lorraine Little (Enbridge Energy), John Driscoll (ZMC), Jim Paquette (Canal Park Lodge), Ryan Kern (Kernz & Kompany), Terry Mattson (Visit Duluth), Barbara Reyelts (KBJR), Peggy Hanson (MN Power Foundation), Cathy Casper (Keyport Liquor & Lounge), John Nys (Johnson, Killen, & Seiler), Dr. Camille Zielen (Mt. Royal Dentistry), John Conway (Superior Glass), Joe Fischer (St. Louis County Attorney’s Office), Abbott Apter (Mercury Investments) and Pat Kelly (KDAL Radio).
All proceeds from the sale of the calendar go direct to the Bong Veterans Historical Center.
The face of Duluth’s booming tourism industry for nearly a quarter of a century is moving on.
Visit Duluth President & CEO Terry Mattson, who earlier this year was named Minnesota’s “Outstanding Individual in Tourism,” is leaving in early December after completion of the 23rd annual AMSOIL Duluth National Snocross at Spirit Mountain, Visit Duluth Board Chair Gerry Goldfarb said.
Mattson oversaw increases in tourism sales and revenue in 23 of the past 24 years. A tourism industry that had an $80 million direct impact for Duluth in the late 1980s has now grown to $800 million annually.
Mattson, who began working at what was then called the Duluth Convention & Visitors Bureau in 1985, has been the organization’s president & CEO since 1990.
Among the highlights during nearly 24 years have been creating the popular Tall Ships maritime festivals. In 2008, the event’s initial year, Mattson’s visionary effort generated huge crowds. And with Mattson as the executive producer of Tall Ships Duluth 2010 and 2013, the events drew more than 200,000 people each year from 50 states and every Canadian province. They also generated a far-reaching buzz that elevated the image and popularity of Duluth.
Mattson is also a founder of the AMSOIL Duluth National Snocross, a popular kickoff to the winter season held each Thanksgiving weekend at Spirit Mountain.
“On behalf of the Visit Duluth board, I thank Terry for his 28 years of dedicated service to Duluth’s tourism industry,” said Goldfarb. “From his leadership in starting Snocross in 1991 to most recently organizing the extremely successful Tall Ships 2013, which is arguably Duluth’s largest event ever, Terry has always been a visionary leader. We wish him well and appreciate all he has done for Duluth and its tourism industry.”
Mattson, 51, said a few factors combined to convince him now is the right time to leave Visit Duluth.
“I absolutely love selling Duluth but 28 years is a long time to be in a position today. It’s been an extreme privilege to help grow Duluth’s tourism industry, said Mattson. “And I’ve really come to appreciate that it’s important to stop and smell the roses, too. I plan on doing more of that, whether at our family farm in northern Wisconsin, on the open road on my Harley or winding through wooded snowmobile trails.”
Mattson doesn’t plan on permanently retiring, saying he has already been approached to provide consulting services for tourism projects in Key West and Los Angeles. He said he wants to explore other career options, even those outside of the industry, as well as assist Visit Duluth in preparing for his successor. Goldfarb said the Visit Duluth board is now beginning a search process to identify Mattson’s replacement.
Mattson serves on both the Minnesota Tourism Advisory Council and the Minnesota Tourism Growth Coalition. He has also been active with the Minnesota Lodging Association, Minnesota Film & Television Board, Minnesota Arrowhead Association, Destination Marketing Association International and the Minnesota Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus.
His recent “Outstanding Individual in Tourism” award was presented to him by Explore Minnesota Tourism. The award is the top honor for the state’s $12 billion industry and reflects Mattson’s longtime role driving success in Duluth, northern Minnesota and throughout the state.
Named one of 10 Duluth movers and shakers by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, Mattson also has received the RSVP MN/Meetings: Minnesota’s Hospitality Journal “Vision Award for Leadership,” for fast action to preserve Duluth’s tourism industry after the 2012 flash flood.
“I wish Terry the very best. His leadership was critical in establishing Duluth as a world-class visitor destination with a remarkable record of growth,” said Mayor Don Ness. “Terry has helped transform Duluth’s brand from a rust belt city to a vibrant, adventure destination.”
“It’s flattering to hear these compliments,” said Mattson, “but Visit Duluth’s success has been a team effort among its staff, board, stakeholders and the entire community. I think Duluth is well positioned for continued tourism growth for many years to come.”