National Travel and Tourism Week will be celebrated May 9-17, 2009, and it is particularly important to remember the importance of tourism to the economy in the Brainerd lakes area.
For those who visit the Brainerd lakes area on a day trip, weekend getaway or extended vacation, the focus is on having a good time. But for the businesses in town, the focus is on the bottom line, since these visitors bring dollars that benefit the local economy in significant ways.
Tourism provided more than $197 million dollars in gross sales to Crow Wing County in 2007 and over $99 million in Cass County, but the hospitality industry has much more than just this splash effect of revenue to the Brainerd lakes region. Tourism related businesses accounted for 6,103 jobs within the two counties in 2007 (Crow Wing: 4,296; Cass: 1,807).
Many businesses within the Brainerd Lakes Area benefit from tourism, both directly and indirectly. Hotels/motels, resorts, campgrounds, and bed and breakfasts rely on travelers for the success of their business, but many more main street businesses in our community, such as restaurants, shops, service stations, grocery stores, museums, attractions, theaters etc., receive significant income from visitors and seasonal residents as well.
Now, more than ever we need the dollars spent from tourists in our local economy. Tourists can choose to visit many different places, but many of them opt to visit the beautiful Brainerd lakes area due to the abundance of accommodations and amenities that the area offers.
It's important for area residents to keep in mind that even if there is more traffic on the area roads and longer lines in local stores, that it is for a good cause and that these tourists and seasonal residents are contributing to the success of the local economy. Help welcome this economic stimulus package to the Brainerd lakes area in the coming months by extending waves of welcome to our visitors!
GRETCHEN ENNIS is tourism director for the Brainerd Lakes Chamber.
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