Last week’s assessment by John Edman, Minnesota Tourism director, that an improving economic outlook will result in a good tourism season, was as welcome as spring rain.
Edman made his prediction Tuesday at the Brainerd Lakes Chamber’s Regional Tourism and Online Marketing Summit at Grand View Lodge.
There’s nothing that would give the Brainerd area’s economy a needed boost more than a vigorous influx of tourism dollars by people with the good fortune of enjoying our region’s lakes, parks and woods. We’ve had a slow start to spring and can only hope there is a pent-up demand among potential tourists to get out and enjoy Minnesota’s outdoors.
Edman was also optimistic that the Legislature will significantly increase the Explore Minnesota budget this year.
It doesn’t seem right that Minnesota ranks 30th in nation for spending to promote tourism or that for years Explore Minnesota’s budget was less than is spent to promote the Wisconsin Dells alone. Those attending the summit also heard statistics that make one question why we aren’t investing more in this area. For every $1 spent on tourism marketing, an Explore Minnesota study found and estimated $8 was created in state and local taxes, $22 in income and $84 in spending by travelers.
Similarly, The Associated Press reported that direct spending by resident and non-resident anglers in Minnesota totaled $2.4 billion in 2011. That’s a sizable amount of money which could be increased if we draw more out-of-state anglers here.
The Minnesota Tourism Growth Coalition, chaired by Lisa Paxton, Brainerd Lakes Chamber CEO, supported a near-doubling of Explore Minnesota’s budget to $16 million annually. Increasing the Explore Minnesota budget makes sense if it help jump-start Minnesota’s tourism industry and the state’s economy.