Minnesota Tourism Industry Hopes For Rebound In Summer Months

The hospitality and tourism industry here in Minnesota expects a rebound with interest in exploring the state's outdoor amenities through the roof, Caroline Cummings reports (2:05). WCCO 4 News At 6 - May 29, 2021

Video Transcript

- Well, it is the unofficial start to summer this weekend, and tens of millions of Americans are traveling. The hospitality and tourism industry here in Minnesota expects a rebound with interest in exploring the state's outdoor amenities through the roof. WCCO's Caroline Cummings explains.

CAROLINE CUMMINGS: It's the first busy holiday weekend since many Americans are fully vaccinated. In Minnesota, that could mean taking a drive up north and exploring our own backyard.

JOAN KJORSVIG-BEANS: As the COVID restrictions started to lessen, it didn't change people's opinion on where they wanted to go for vacation.

CAROLINE CUMMINGS: Joan Kjorsvig-Beans and her family own and operate several businesses along the Boundary Waters, including a coffee shop, a local inn in Ely, and a couple of rental properties. She says last summer during the pandemic, there was high interest in traveling in state already. Now, with no more state-mandated pandemic restrictions in place, rentals like hers are going fast.

JOAN KJORSVIG-BEANS: Our Chamber of Commerce is working very diligently with all of our lodging facilities helping people find a spot because they are filling up.

CAROLINE CUMMINGS: No industry has been hit hard over the last year and a half then the hospitality industry, which shed 27% of its jobs, compared to a 7% loss overall in the private sector. That same report from the state's tourism agency, Explore Minnesota, surveyed these businesses and found six in 10 now think they can rebound to pre-pandemic levels by the end of this year. Minnesota's beautiful outdoor spaces might be to thank for that.

SARAH STROMMEN: Really what we've seen during the COVID-19 pandemic is Minnesotans went outside. They went outside in really big numbers. Kjorsvig-Beans says the surge in bookings help offset losses during the times they were closed early on in the pandemic. It'll still take a few years to fully recover, she says, but--

JOAN KJORSVIG-BEANS: We feel that there's really good hope for the future. And I think people, now that they've discovered Ely, will be coming back whether COVID is here or not.

CAROLINE CUMMINGS: Caroline Cummings, WCCO 4 News.

- AAA expects a 60% increase in travel this weekend nationwide compared to last year.