Different-colored license plates add up to a lot of greenAlexandria is brushing off its welcome mat to greet this summer’s travelers.
By: Al Edenloff, Alexandria Echo Press
Alexandria is brushing off its welcome mat to greet this summer’s travelers.
It’s part of National Tourism Week, May 9-17 – a time to highlight the positive impact of the travel business.
Tourism carries a significant impact in Douglas County, according to Joni Karger with the Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and Brad Stevens, coordinator of the Alexandria Hotel and Hospitality, which uses lodging tax proceeds to promote the area as a year-round destination.
They shared information from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development that showed gross sales from Douglas County’s leisure and hospitality industry totaled just under $87 million in 2007. The industry also provides 2,261 jobs in the county.
Excluding the 10-county metro area, only seven other counties in the state had more gross sales through tourism than Douglas County – St. Louis ($412 million), Olmsted ($351 million), Stearns ($268 million), Crow Wing ($197 million), Blue Earth ($137 million), Rice ($112 million) and Cass ($99 million).
Statewide, tourism generates $11 billion and $679 million in sales tax revenue. The leisure and hospitality industry accounts for 247,800 jobs across the state – almost 11 percent of the private sector employment – and generates $3.9 billion in wages. Hotels, motels, resorts, campgrounds, private vacation rentals and bed and breakfasts all rely on travelers for their business success.
There are nearly 100 lodging facilities in the four-county region of Douglas, Grant, Pope and Todd, Karger and Stevens noted.
Explore Minnesota Tourism, the state’s office of tourism, markets the state of Minnesota as a travel destination.
Closer to home, AHH, along with the Chamber and the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau promote the Alexandria lakes area to potential visitors.
The combined effort, according to Karger and Stevens, results in significant payback: Every $1 invested in state tourism marketing is estimated to generate $53 in spending by travelers.
An estimated 39 million travel in Minnesota each year. The top activities, according to Explore Minnesota, are scenic touring, shopping and fishing. Other popular attractions are state parks, bike trails, historic sites, fairs and festivals, casinos, museums and the arts.
In Alexandria, the top attractions for visitors are: the lakes – more than 300 of them, Lake Carlos State Park, museums, theaters, Central Lakes Trail, Inspiration Peak, Carlos Creek Winery, Alexandria Beetles baseball, Alexandria Blizzard hockey, Viking Speedway and activities such as shopping, bowling, golf, trap and skeet ranges, fishing and boating, just to name a few, according to Karger and Stevens.
Tourism experts estimate that dollars spent in a community for tourism and service-related items “roll over” and are multiplied in that community three to five times. To learn more about tourism and the effects on the economy, visit www.exploreminnesota.com. For information on National Tourism Week, visit www.tia.org/NTW.