Explore Minnesota, the state’s tourism promotion office, announced the winners of its annual awards last week.

Marianna Khauv was named outstanding individual in tourism. Khauv, owner of Best Western Chelsea Inn & Suites in Monticello, has served in many tourism leadership roles in the state and in her community.

Kjersti Vick was named the state tourism industry rising star. Vick, marketing and public relations director for Visit Cook County, was cited for her innovative marketing campaigns.

Winners of the Only in MN Award were Otter Tail County, the 2019 World Ploughing Competition at Lake of the Woods, Warroad’s October Festival, the St. Paul Winter Carnival and Lake of the Woods Brewing Co.

Winners of the Destination Marketing Award were Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, Minneapolis Northwest Tourism, Montgomery Area Community Club, Lake of the Woods Tourism, Otter Tail Lakes Country Association and the Minne-Roadtrip in Owatonna, Faribault and Northfield.

According to Explore Minnesota, the tourism industry in the state is a $16 billion business and employs nearly 273,000 workers.

High water delays shipping season

High water on the Great Lakes is delaying the start of the international shipping season, potentially costing companies millions and disrupting supply chains.

The locks that allow travel between Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River won’t open until April 1, nearly two weeks later than anticipated. The Ottawa-based Chamber of Marine Commerce, which advocates for shipping on the St. Lawrence Seaway, says that could delay up to 100 ships.

The Port of Duluth-Superior relies first on the Soo Locks — which are still scheduled to open on time on March 25 for domestic shipments — to get cargo in and out of Lake Superior, but officials say a lack of reliability in the system can hurt long-term prospects.

“Delayed shipments and uncertain system availability will result in lost business that may not return,” Deb DeLuca, executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, said in a statement last week.

Last year the port had 85 overseas vessel visits, the most since 2010. The first international visits, when on schedule, don’t arrive until early or mid-April.

Several lakes are now at record-high water levels, and others remain well above average, causing problems for coastal communities and the shipping industry.

Source: Star Tribune