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Minnesota's summer tourism outlook

Explore Minnesota Tourism says 40% of the travelers they surveyed plan to camp at least once this summer.

ST PAUL, Minn. — National Travel and Tourism Week is celebrating its 40th anniversary, May 7-13. 

In Minnesota, those involved in the tourism industry are preparing for a busy summer. 

According to Explore Minnesota Tourism's 2023 Summer Traveler Plans Survey, parks, historic sites, community and county events and festivals will be top attractions. 

The state's tourism marketing agency conducted its survey last month and received nearly 3,900 responses from travelers both in Minnesota and outside the state. 

75% of respondents plan to take a day or overnight trip this summer that includes time in Minnesota. While almost 2/3 of travelers plan on staying at a hotel or motel this summer, 40% will camp at least once. 

Minnesota travelers plan on spending time across the state with 70% planning trips to the northeast region. 

"We're gearing up for another busy summer. said Dave Tersteeg, parks and recreation manager for the city of Grand Marais. "We have 300 campsites and we have 30 slips in the marina and we have just steady, solid... weekends are full. Midweek there's a little bit of a room, I would say, with tent campers, we can still get in but RVs are particularly popular." 

Tersteeg said they have had a busy few years with more people camping during the pandemic. 

"We're sort of always busy during... July and August but I would say one trend we've seen is the shoulder season growth. Now in May we're busy and we stretch it all the way to October, like late October through MEA weekend," Tersteeg said. 

Learn more about things to do in Cook County, here

Explore Minnesota Tourism is also trying new ways of reaching more people. 

"Minnesota does really well as sort of a regional drive state. It's really easy to access via all of our fantastic roads, including the Great River Road, but one of the things that we're looking at a lot more now is how we find audiences that have interest in Minnesota that maybe we typically haven't marketed to before?" said Lauren Bennett McGinty, Explore Minnesota executive director. 

That includes focusing on marketing in cities with direct flights to MSP Airport; for the first time, Bennett McGinty said they are marketing in Dallas and Atlanta. 

It's part of Explore Minnesota's push to make the state a Top 10 destination. 

Currently, Bennett McGinty said they are advocating for a larger budget from the legislature, adding, "We're looking at over double what we would normally get which is really exciting and it's a great opportunity for us to try a lot of new things and really show that tourism matters in Minnesota." 

Jaimee Lucke Hendrikson, Visit Saint Paul's vice president of marketing & partnership, said the city has more than 30 summer festivals planned. 

"Some new ones for 2023 are WAKPA Public Art Triennial, the return of Grand Old Day, and St. Paul Pride," Lucke Hendrikson said. 

You can learn more about St. Paul summer events, here

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