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Long haul tourism

Right now, the City of Austin is going on a national tour in the form of a big rig traveling billboard.

Through a grant from Explore Minnesota Tourism, Discover Austin has organized a semi tractor trailer to be wrapped up in Austin — literally.

Pictures of Austin events and locations adorn the semi trailer on both sides of the 53-foot trailer as well as the back.

“It will reach markets we normally wouldn’t be able to reach,” said Discover Austin Executive Director Nancy Schnable. “The benefit is it’s not a static billboard so it will reach more people.”

The project, slated for 10 years, has been long in the making.

“We’ve been working on this for years,” Schnable said. “We were trying to find the right partners to make it happen and it finally came to fruition.”

The trailer belongs to Halvor Lines based in Superior, Wisconsin. Little Sugar Design conceived the design which was then printed by Turbo Images and placed by Print Lab Wraps.

The reason for the 10-year project is that both the wrap and the trailer are typically good for 10 years.

A big part of the project, however, is that it’s trackable.

“We will get a report every month that shows where the semi trailer has been,” Schnable said. “It’s incredible for tracking purposes.”

An interactive map will be created for the project that will allow the public to see where the trailer has been as well.

Even though the project is now underway, Schnable said she understood that it might not have much of an impact now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it could have a lasting impact down the line.

“If they see the trailer, they may put that in the back of their mind that Austin might be a destination worth traveling to,” She said. “We’re pretty excited about it.”

At the same time, Schnable is also excited by the community reaction in the short time the trailer was in Austin.

On Tuesday, the trailer was parked across from Hormel Food Corps, near the skate park. During that time, the trailer drew looks from those passing by as well as people who stopped to take pictures.

For Schnable, it was meaningful to see the reaction from those in Austin.

“It was heartwarming to see the community support this,” she said.