Planners exploring tourism potential of St. Paul’s East Side

Even if St. Paul doesn’t have a Little Italy, a Chinatown, a Greektown, or even an Eat Street, it does have the East Side.

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Today, a bus tour of this eclectic swath of the city will hit some spots with global influence, including a Thai grocery and the Plaza Latina mini-mall on Payne Avenue. Old standbys like Serlin’s Cafe and Yarusso-Bros. are also on the agenda.

Who’ll be sitting on the mini-bus? Community development corporations, city staff, tourism organizations, and other members of the Ethnic Cultural Tourism Destinations Collaborative, said organizer Lisa Tabor.

The group has been studying the “potential of the local ethnic destinations to contribute to our local economy as well as identify ways to develop that potential,” said Tabor, a cultural consultant.

Tabor believes there are plenty of ethnic destinations throughout Minnesota, but many fall off the tourism industry’s radar. This tour, however, has the support of Visit Saint Paul and other partners.

Future tours will feature the Central Corridor, which some are hoping to brand as a “world cultural heritage district,” and African-American heritage along Selby Avenue, downtown, and the historic Rondo area.