ST. CLOUD -- Minnesota's largest industry is beginning to bounce back. The tourism industry took a massive hit in 2020 due to the pandemic.

According to the Minnesota Department of Revenue, travel spending dropped $8.6 billion in 2020 compared to the $16.6-billion generated in 2019.

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On a local level, tourism in the tri-county area record $476-million in gross sales in 2019 and also saw a significant drop as things shut down.

Rachel Thompson is the Executive Director for Visit Greater St. Cloud. She says while they haven't reached 2019 levels, they did see an uptick in visitor spending.

When we look at this year over last year, we are up about 14 events and when we look at a year basis we are up over $5-million in economic impact for the area.

Some of the highest viewed websites in the Great St. Cloud area in 2021 included:

- Quarry Park
- Local Events Calendar (VisitStCloud)
- Attraction Things (VisitStCloud)
- American Legion Baseball
- Places to Eat (VisitStCloud)
- Liberty Block Party
- Granite City Days
- The Ledge Amphitheater
- Rock the Riverside
- Lake George

Thompson says they feel fortunate to be able to support and driver travelers to the many unique opportunities the greater St. Cloud area has to offer.

Tourism and hospitality in the central Minnesota region is the leading industry for economic growth and development. When you come to a conference you're spending money at stores, for gas or food so we want to make sure when we drive business here it is helping all businesses in the region.

Thompson says according to state and national reports, the tourism industry isn't expected to fully recover from the pandemic until around 2024.

 

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