Minnesota Shutdown Harms Tourism Business

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July 18, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

As talks of the the Minnesota state government shutdown coming to a close continue, many citizens are waiting for things to get back to normal.

Many summer leisurely activities, especially over the Fourth of July, were particularly interrupted simply because they were state operated. On June 30, at 4 p.m. all state operated parks, recreation areas and campgrounds were closed, including 40 state forest campgrounds.

One section of business that one would think would have benefited from the shutdown is private campgrounds, reported.

“In theory we should be full,” said Dan Hou, owner of the KOA Campground in Maple Grove. “We should have a lot of people, but we are not sold out or anything yet.”

Hou also believes because the shutdown seems to be temporary, his business won't see a significant impact but he says the fact that rest areas and campgrounds are closed in Minnesota is hurting tourism and overall business.

“People know that they cannot stop to even use the bathroom, so if possible they are going to take another route. But it’s impact won’t be very definable because it’s not that clear cut of an issue,” Hou said.

Another factor affecting the camping industry has been a lot of rain and bad weather during this shutdown. Hou believes that the two factors may be averaging out business for KOA in Maple Grove.

“In our business weather is very crucial,” Hou said.

Tara Leicht and her husband and dog traveled to Minnesota from Texas this week to spend some time in Minneapolis. They had no idea that the state government was shut down until they got here. They traveled in an RV camper and had plans to fish and camp in a state park. Instead they ended up staying in the KOA in Maple Grove Wednesday night (July 13).

“We definitely had to change a few of our travel plans” Leicht said. “It really affected where and how we spent out money. We were planning on buying fishing licenses and staying in a state park, so both of those plans changed. But obviously there were alternatives, so overall we can still have a good vacation.”

As far as fishing licenses go, a clear impact has already been seen. More than 36,000 licenses were sold statewide on June 30, more than double the 14,000 sold on June 30, 2010. This is the first time in the DNR’s history that the agency has ceased virtually all of its operations and services on that date.

As far as private campgrounds are concerned, Hou says he believes it will take the government at least a two-month shutdown for them to really see an affect and an increase in sales. Though he wants more campers and business at the KOA in Maple Grove, Hou would much rather see the overall tourism industry succeed in Minnesota.

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