COVID-19 pandemic impacts Minnesota tourism; what it means for resorts and campgrounds

As the snow melts and grass greens up, Minnesotans gear up for summer and vacations at resorts, cabins and campgrounds.

Kristi Corchran’s family runs Kiesler’s Campground and RV Resort in Waseca, a popular spot that’s been around for nearly 50 years.

"We are definitely planning on opening (in May) with safety protocols in place," she shared.

Public campgrounds around the state are closed right now, but many private campgrounds are getting ready, set to open for the season on May 1.

"Getting out in the fresh air, being with your family, sitting around a campfire, you can be outdoors and have a taste of normalcy and still maintain safe distances from everybody," Corchran said.

Tourism is a $16 billion dollar industry in Minnesota, and many local economies need it to survive.

John Edman is the director of Explore Minnesota, the state’s tourism arm. He said because of the ‘stay at home order’ and health concerns over the coronavirus, Explore Minnesota has pushed the pause button on marketing to tourists.

"It’s just not going be the season that we’ve had in the past, I’m hoping that we can launch a subtle recovery campaign in May and wait and see how much farther we can go to that in June and July," he said.

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Edman said resorts that are open are making changes to honor social distancing like closing large gathering spaces.

Corchran said they’ll do that, too, at the campground if it helps Minnesotans get out in a safe way.

"I think every campground is looking at their own business, seeing how they can maintain their own business, seeing how they can maintain the safety and health of their guests because that’s our top priority," she said.

Both acknowledged people will be ready to explore the state when able.

"There’s this pent up demand, people are going to want to get out there, they are tired of being cooped up for weeks and weeks and they’re going to be looking for some of that more socially responsible escape that they can do," Edman said.

Explore Minnesota has posted some ideas on how to explore our state virtually while also practicing social distancing.