Minnesota Experiences Best Summer Travel Season Since 2008

Sep 03, 2015

State of Minnesota
Media contact:

Erica Wacker, 651-757-1862 / erica.wacker@state.mn.us
Alyssa Ebel, 651-757-1857 / alyssa.ebel@state.mn.us

Minnesota Experiences Best Summer Travel Season Since 2008
Explore Minnesota Lodging Survey Reveals Strong Summer, Positive Fall Outlook

ST. PAUL, Minn. (Sept. 3, 2015) – Minnesota’s summer travel season was the strongest on record since 2008, based on results from a recent statewide lodging survey conducted by Explore Minnesota. Due in part to favorable weather and economic factors, the annual survey revealed lodging business growth and financial health to be at their highest levels since comparable data was first gathered in 2008.

More than half of respondents (51%) said their summer occupancy was up, and 62% cited increased revenue compared to the already strong 2014 summer travel season. By contrast, only 22% of respondents said occupancy was down, and 17% reported decreased summer revenue. Overall, 87% of respondents rated their current financial health as growing (32%) or stable, but positive (55%). The survey was completed by 244 Minnesota lodging businesses, including hotels and motels, resorts, B&Bs, campgrounds and vacation home rentals.

“These results continue an exciting trend for Minnesota tourism, and along with a strong economy, indicate that our marketing efforts and ‘Only in MN’ campaign are working,” said Explore Minnesota Director John Edman, who was recently named State Tourism Director of the Year by the U.S. Travel Association. “Minnesota is an attractive, close-to-home getaway for our core target markets, and is entering the radar screens of more travelers from further away,” Edman added.

Additionally, lodging metrics from Smith Travel Research Inc. showed a particularly strong month of July, with 78% occupancy statewide; the U.S. overall rate was 75%. Demand also showed stronger growth in July for Minnesota compared to the country as a whole.

Explore Minnesota survey respondents’ outlook for fall travel was similarly positive, with more than a third (34%) expecting increased occupancy and 43% anticipating higher revenue than fall 2014. Only 21% and 19%, respectively, predicted occupancy and revenue will be down. According to national projections, the fall season should be off to a strong start, with AAA forecasting 35.5 million American travelers over Labor Day weekend – the highest volume since 2008.

“2015 has been, and will continue to be, a strong year for Minnesota’s $13 billion tourism industry. We share the industry’s excitement for the future and are working hard to entice even more travelers to explore Minnesota,” noted Edman.

Explore Minnesota Summer Marketing Proves Successful, Continues into Fall

The evolution of Explore Minnesota’s “Only in MN” campaign this summer featured two new TV spots, as well as radio, print, digital and out-of-home advertising, including painted murals in Denver and Chicago. Explore Minnesota also welcomed four “10-Day Minnesotans”—prominent travelers with extensive social media followings—to document their travels here. To date, the popular #OnlyinMN hashtag has been used more than 200,000 times, and Explore Minnesota has amassed more than 200,000 fans on social media.

The campaign will continue this fall in the five-state region, with dynamic digital and mobile advertising, social media efforts, and TV and radio spots. To help travelers follow the fall colors, Explore Minnesota will launch its free, weekly fall color reports starting Sept. 10. Fall travel ideas and inspiration, from apple picking to harvest festivals to fall color drives, can be found on exploreminnesota.com and Explore Minnesota’s social media channels.

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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. A council of representatives from the state's tourism industry strongly connects Explore Minnesota with tourism businesses and organizations.

Tourism is a $13 billion industry in Minnesota, and a key sector of the state’s economy. The leisure and hospitality industry—a major provider of tourism services—employs more than 250,000 workers, representing 11 percent of Minnesota’s private sector employment. Leisure and hospitality also generates 17 percent of the state’s sales tax revenues. Minnesota received an estimated 69 million domestic and international travelers in 2013, the most recent data available.

See what’s happening right now, only in Minnesota, at exploreminnesota.com and join the movement via @exploreminn on Twitter and Pinterest, or @exploreminnesota on Instagram and Facebook, using #OnlyinMN.