2015 was a great year for Explore Minnesota, and the state's tourism industry as a whole. Lodging properties had their best summer since 2008, new businesses popped up everywhere, and events drew large crowds.
In the second year of the popular #OnlyinMN campaign, we generated 3.2 million trips to Minnesota and more than $337 million in traveler spending. We engaged hundreds of thousands of people through social media, more than ever before. And we made a big splash in cities like Chicago and Denver with cutting-edge PR and advertising efforts.
On top of all this, we reached an all-time record private sector match of $9 million to further our marketing reach. Our co-ops and partnerships grew to new heights.
Internationally, Minnesota continued to grow as a global destination. We worked with you, with multi-state groups and with Brand USA to promote state tourism to markets from Mexico to Canada to the U.K. Last year was my first year as a member of the Brand USA board, and it has been amazing to see the opportunities to market Minnesota in ways we cannot do alone.
We continued our group tour efforts, substantially increased our public relations, and engaged with millions of consumers through welcome centers, at trade shows and online, with a record number of visitors to our website.
As successful as these efforts were, we want to be even better in 2016 and beyond. We held listening sessions throughout Minnesota to hear from all of you, and worked with staff and our Tourism Council on a new two-year strategic plan, which you can view here.
The following 2015 Annual Report gives you a very quick look back at some of the things we accomplished this past year. Take a look and let us know what you think.
Thank you for all of your hard work this past year bringing both new and returning travelers to our great state and ensuring they leave with smiles on their faces. Minnesota would not be the amazing destination that it is without you.
Here's to another great year ahead!
John F. Edman, Director
Tourism is an important part of a small town economy, especially one like Granite Falls. Explore Minnesota and Southern Minnesota Tourism Association provide state and area wide promotions of tourism. Funded by our tax dollars, these organizations also provide cooperative advertising opportunities for businesses and help with advice for tourism organizations and businesses. The following letter was written by John F. Edman, Director of Explore Minnesota. The letter is a great summary of everything Explore Minnesota has done in the past year.
To become more involved with this outstanding organization or to learn more check out Explore Minnesota. You can make a difference in your community by attending the next meeting of the Southern Minnesota Tourism Association on May 12 here in Granite Falls, hosted by the Granite Falls Area Chamber of Commerce.