With travel demand high, Explore Minnesota markets ‘Dream State’ to lure visitors

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Minnesota’s tourism promotion office is set debut a new marketing campaign to lure visitors to the state.

Explore Minnesota’s annual statewide conference kicked off Tuesday with a look at the struggles since the pandemic started, as well as an optimistic look at 2022.

Lauren Bennett McGinty, who took over as the director of Explore Minnesota in November, said tourism isn’t expected to see pre-pandemic levels this year. However, she noted that stronger travel volume is expected this year, and the state is hoping to draw eager travelers to Minnesota.

“While we don’t anticipate a complete return to pre-pandemic levels until late 2023 or early 2024, we are working our way back and anticipate stronger travel volume in 2022,” Bennett McGinty said. “Minnesota is a unique, four-season destination, and we have a major opportunity moving forward to position the state as a top 10 travel destination. After nearly two years of pandemic constraints, Explore Minnesota is ready to execute a new strategic direction to attract travelers from our state, around the country and across the globe who are eager to get back out, explore, and reconnect with the people and places they care about most.”

In an effort to lure visitors to the state, Explore Minnesota will debut its new marketing campaign, “Dream State,” this spring. The office says, in addition to targeting travelers from traditional markets — including bordering states, Illinois, Nebraska and Colorado — it will expand its reach further this year to include Missouri, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Montana, Wyoming and Utah.

“The last two years have been challenging, but demand for travel is on the rise. While we can’t forecast anything specific, we can be confident that we have a lot of exciting events like the 2022 NCAA Women’s Final Four, 2022 MLS All-Star Game and 3M Open, and plenty of great ideas in place to build a bigger, bolder and brighter future for Minnesota’s tourism industry,” Bennett McGinty added.

Explore Minnesota also looked back at the past year, saying it has used over $3 million in tourism crisis and recovery grants to support hundreds of Minnesota communities.

Its fall tourism and hospitality survey also gave a glimpse of how the industry is recovering. While some areas – like business travel – have been slow to recover, others are doing well, such as the 39% of leisure and travel businesses who reported being at or above pre-pandemic business levels.

That survey showed business activity in the tourism and hospitality industry continues trending the right way, but many are still not where they were before the pandemic, particularly in the metro and southern regions of the state.

Click here to see more about the Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference.