A lodging tax that overnight guests pay at hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts in the Alexandria area is on pace for another record year.

The 3 percent tax is expected to bring in about $577,000 in 2019, a 2 percent increase from the previous year’s $566,277, according to James Feist, director of Explore Alexandria Tourism, the organization that manages the proceeds. Feist gave his annual report to the Alexandria City Council Monday night.

The 2 percent rise isn’t as much as 2018’s 5 percent increase.

Tourism continues to deliver an economic punch. Feist said that 43 events in the area this year related to meetings and sports generated more than $1.53 million in room revenue and created more than $18.4 million in total estimated economic impact.

Tourism also generated $115 million in gross sales in Douglas County or about $315,091 per day, Feist said.

Several new events will be taking place next year – Midwest Shriners Conference, Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference, Flying Farmers, a martial arts competition, Moms on the Run, Ducks Unlimited Conference, a Women Anglers’ event, Minnesota Mountain Bike High School League (pending a final contract), Habitat for Humanity Conference and the Minnesota ALHS.

Explore Alexandria set its 2020 budget at $565,900, a 5.7 increase from this year’s budget of $535,000. The budget includes $183,216 for operating, $312,300 for marketing and advertising and $70,000 for promotional funding requests.

Explore Alexandria has set these strategic objectives:

  • Increase destination awareness of the Alexandria area.

  • Increase overnight stays, especially in non-peak times.

  • Use best practices, including staying on the leading edge of technology.

  • Focusing on prospecting new business in non-leisure activities, such as meetings, sports and convention travel.

  • Maximize area-wide tourism collaboration.

Feist said that Alexandria being selected as the Best Minnesota Town by Minnesota Monthly magazine provides a great opportunity to have fun and celebrate the honor in 2020.

Explore Alexandria also plans to expand promoting travel to the area through advertising, including billboards, radio, TV, print, blogs, the #ExploreAlex hashtag, social media platforms, its website and more.