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New survey measures impact of tourism

A new attitudes assessment survey sponsored by the University of Minnesota Tourism Center reveals that a majority of the state's residents feel tourism is "very important" to the economy.

Among the respondents surveyed during the fourth quarter of 2009, 70 percent indicate tourism is "very important," while 99 percent say they see it as either "important" or "very important" to the state's economy.

"These results help demonstrate an awareness that travel and tourism is an important part of our state," said Ingrid Schneider, Director of the U of M Tourism Center. "Traveler dollars flow through economies at all levels. Further, the tourism attractions and opportunities add to Minnesotans' quality of life."

According to Explore Minnesota Tourism, the industry generates $11.2 billion in leisure and hospitality sales in Minnesota, including $694 million in sales tax, and accounts for close to 250,000 jobs.

National legislation enacted earlier this month is aimed at promoting the U.S. as a desirable travel destination, attracting more visitors, new spending and tax revenue. Although the U.S. experienced a 10 percent drop in overseas visitors during the last decade, attendance at local events and seasonal festivals is up, according to Tourism Center faculty.

Programming from the U's Tourism Center provides local event staff, festival organizers and volunteers with the essential knowledge and organizational tools to operate successful community events, says Schneider.

The attitudes research study was supported by the Carlson Chair of Hospitality, Travel and Tourism, and conducted as part of the 2009 Minnesota State Survey by the Minnesota Center for Survey Research. From September 25, 2009, to November 19, 2009, 840 telephone interviews were conducted with Minnesota residents aged 18 or older. The margin for error was 3.5 percent. Regardless of region of the state, education level, age or income, Minnesotans agreed about the importance of tourism.

The University of Minnesota Tourism Center is a collaboration of University of Minnesota Extension and the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences.

For more information on Extension programs in festival and event management, visit For more information about how the Tourism Center helps improve the state's tourism industry, including a video, visit