Survey: Minnesota 2013 Camping Season Off
In an end-of-summer survey by Minnesota’s tourism promotion office, 40% of responding businesses reported that occupancy this summer was higher than last summer and 28% reported occupancy similar to a year ago. Almost half (49%) reported that revenues were up this summer over last, the Mille Lacs Messenger reported.
However, a cold and wet start to the spring/summer season had a chilling effect on business at Minnesota campgrounds and resorts. While almost half (48%) of hotels and motels in the survey reported higher occupancy this summer, only 36% of resorts and 15% of campgrounds indicated that occupancy was up.
“Weather definitely had an impact on many businesses that focus on outdoor recreation,” noted John Edman, director of Explore Minnesota Tourism. “But the bigger picture of ongoing growth in Minnesota tourism is very positive. Consumers are feeling better about the economy and their own finances and they’re eager to get out and travel.”
Lodging business was especially strong in the early part of the year. Overall, occupancy and room demand at Minnesota lodging businesses were 5% higher January through July than they were a year ago, according to STR (Smith Travel Research Inc.), and room revenues were up 8 percent.
With the improving economy, lodging businesses have been able to raise rates and increase revenue after years of discounts. But short stays and last-minute reservations are ongoing challenges for lodging businesses, though as business improves, some consumers find they need to plan ahead to book their preferred dates and properties.
While summer was signing off with a blast of heat, lodging businesses are looking ahead to the fall season. In response to the Explore Minnesota survey, more than three-fourths expect that business this fall will be the same or better than last autumn.
As the state’s tourism office, Explore Minnesota Tourism pursues an entrepreneurial approach, leveraging the state’s tourism investment with increased involvement by the private sector. Tourism is an $11.9 billion industry in Minnesota, a key sector of the state’s economy.
The leisure and hospitality industry, a major provider of tourism services, employs almost 240,000, representing 11% of private sector employment. Leisure and hospitality also generates 17% of state sales tax revenues.