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Tourism push plays up 'Only in Minnesota' getaways

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 17, 2014 at 3:06 pm •  Published: April 17, 2014

Tourism is a $12.5 billion a year industry in Minnesota. Explore Minnesota director John Edman said the agency has a goal of increasing that to $20 billion by 2020. In the short term, officials are relying on a $14 million annual budget, which is 66 percent more than it was a year ago. The amount of money Minnesota devotes to tourism promotion still trails Wisconsin, Missouri and some other states in the region.

Edman said between 60 percent and 70 percent of the ad budget is aimed outside of Minnesota, while the remainder is used to remind residents of things to do in their own backyard.

Jim Benson, operations director at Grand View Lodge in Nisswa, said he likes the emphasis on luring out-of-state visitors because they tend to stay longer and spend more money than people from nearby who tend to escape for a long weekend.

"Right now it's primarily the metro area where our guests come from," Benson said. "What we're finding is that as we push the marketing out, we get more and more of the Des Moines market and the Kansas City market."

There was a hint of irony that the campaign launched the day after a spring storm dumped more than a foot of snow in some places, which prompted only-in-Minnesota shrugs from residents and ridicule from people far away.

Edman laughed it off.

"We don't run away from our weather, we try to embrace it," Edman said.