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For Immediate Release
State of Minnesota

Media Contact(s):

Alyssa Hayes, Explore Minnesota
O: 651-757-1857 // [email protected]

Minnesota Travel in 2020: Consumer Survey About Travel During the Pandemic

Explore Minnesota Survey Reveals Consumers' Plans to Travel Again, Focusing on Safety Measures and Road Trips within the State

ST. PAUL, Minn. (June 23, 2020) – With the summer season in full swing, it's clear the travel industry in Minnesota, across the country and around the world has been hit hard, and as shutdown measures have eased, businesses and travelers are learning to navigate a new normal. In recent months, national travel studies have revealed significant impacts from the pandemic, including consumers' evolving attitudes about travel. To get a better sense of feelings among Minnesota-oriented travelers, Explore Minnesota, the state's tourism promotion office, recently conducted a consumer sentiment survey.

Explore Minnesota sent its consumer sentiment survey to a random sample of 20,000 subscribers to its monthly travel e-newsletter the week of June 9 and received 1,371 responses—a response rate of 6.9%. Most respondents were from Minnesota and throughout the Midwest, and age range skewed older, including more retirees overall. The survey asked a variety of questions relevant to current challenging times, including: recent and upcoming leisure travel plans in 2020, assurances needed to instill confidence for travel, mode of travel, current motivators for travel and how recent civil unrest has impacted their view of Minnesota as a travel destination.

Top Survey Findings

 Top Survey Findings: Many Consumers Ready to Cautiously Resume Leisure In-State Travel

  • 62.5% of respondents indicated they have at least tentative plans to take a summer leisure trip, and 50% have at least tentative plans for fall travel in September through November.
  • Most of that travel will be road trips that are relatively close to home, with only 23% indicating the destination of their next leisure trip will be beyond 500 miles from home (20%) or international (3%). Several respondents expressed pent-up demand for travel due to annual summer trips, or to overcome feelings of being cooped up.
  • Respondents also indicated the importance of robust health and safety considerations to instill confidence in them for travel. In addition to medical considerations around vaccines and medical facilities, other confidence-inspiring indicators included knowing a destination would be well-sanitized, welcoming of visitors and maintain proper social-distance guidelines.
  • Top motivators for respondents' summer leisure trips were outdoor experiences and visiting friends and family. New and familiar experiences provided similar motivation for travel, with respondents indicating both a desire for the safety offered by familiar activities, and to try something new that's been on their travel wish list. Experiences with less opportunity for social distancing like sports events, concerts or other urban experiences provided less motivation for travel.
  • When asked for thoughts on what future leisure travel will look like, some respondents acknowledged that their future travel experiences may never be the same as they were pre-pandemic. Meanwhile, most respondents expressed the need for safety measures and control over their travel environment, including the desire for close-to-home road trips versus air travel.

"The tourism industry has been significantly impacted and forever changed in recent months, but these targeted survey results offer a cautious sense of optimism about the future of travel throughout Minnesota," said John Edman, state tourism director, Explore Minnesota. "Consumers are anxious to travel, but also concerned about their safety. Travel and tourism businesses across the state are listening and have made visitors' safety a priority, implementing stringent safety protocols including increased sanitization, contactless check-in, staff wearing masks and more."  

In addition, recent events following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis have also impacted how consumers are thinking and feeling about travel. While more than a third of survey respondents (36%) stated these events have no impact on their perception of Minnesota travel destinations, 41% noted safety considerations will be more important as they choose where to go and what to do in Minnesota. While relatively small portions of respondents are either less likely (6%) to or will never again (2%) consider Minnesota for a leisure trip, more than 2% indicated that they are now more likely to consider a Minnesota trip.

The full Explore Minnesota report of survey results can be downloaded here.   

Survey responses will help Explore Minnesota and tourism industry stakeholders determine how to best serve visitors, and what sort of travel information is relevant during these challenging times. As Minnesota begins to reopen for business, Explore Minnesota is gradually introducing various marketing recovery efforts to convey a message of optimism, nature and a sense of Minnesota pride to get consumers thinking about exploring the state again.

"As more people begin traveling again, Minnesota's bounty of open spaces and outdoor experiences provide welcoming options, and along with increased safety and cleaning measures, will help consumers regain a sense of comfort and normalcy when it comes to exploring the state," added Edman.

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About Explore Minnesota
As the state's tourism promotion office, Explore Minnesota pursues an entrepreneurial approach, leveraging the state's tourism investment with increased involvement by the private sector. Tourism is a $16.0 billion industry in Minnesota, and a key sector of the state's economy, and the summer travel season accounts for 37% of expenditures. The leisure and hospitality industry employs nearly 273,000 workers, representing 11 percent of Minnesota's private sector employment. Leisure and hospitality also generates $1.0 billion of the state's sales tax revenues. Minnesota welcomes more than 73 million domestic and international travelers annually.

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