Outlook for tourism recovery is good, state office says
The summer travel forecast is for continued moderate growth in tourism business, as residents of Minnesota and neighboring states travel in Minnesota on affordable, close-to-home trips, the state’s tourism office reported.
Overall, travel spending is expected to increase somewhat this year, providing tourism-related businesses a second year of gradual recovery from recession lows of 2009.
Many lodging businesses are anticipating occupancy greater or similar to last summer, when business began to see an uptick in visitors. Though business in some areas was slow this spring, due primarily to lingering winter weather, early reservations have properties hopeful for the summer travel season.
“Though the economy is giving mixed signals, and consumers are dealing with high gas prices, there are plenty of reasons to get excited about this summer season,” said John Edman, director of Explore Minnesota Tourism, in a news release.
Lisa Paxton, Brainerd Lakes Chamber chief executive officer, said there is cautious optimism for a stronger summer and the area is well positioned for it, even if high gas prices have people rethinking summer spending. For many, the Brainerd area is a destination reached in less than a tankful of gas, Paxton said.
“I think we are looking forward to a strong summer,” Paxton said. “Many indicators show that lodging bookings are ahead of last year. Inquiries are up. The continued trend toward all things web is strong with consumers.”