May 15, 2019 | By: Rachel Johnson

Explore Minnesota Hosts Listening Session In Brainerd Lakes Area

Officials from the state’s tourism promotion agency visited the Brainerd Lakes Area today to gain insight from the community on the future of tourism in Minnesota.

With summer fast approaching, the Brainerd Lakes Area is gearing up for its busiest time of the year: tourism season.

“From a consumer perspective, people look to Crow Wing County, to Brainerd, the Brainerd Lakes Area, as a destination that they want to go,” said Explore Minnesota Director John Edman.

Officials from Explore Minnesota visited the area Wednesday to host a listening session to gain insight from community members on the future of tourism in the lakes area.

“To hear from the industry about tourism, about what’s working, what isn’t working, how we can help them at the state,” added Edman.

“How we can improve, what we do great, and just talk about where we see tourism going in the next couple of years,” explained Nicole Lalum, Explore Minnesota Central Regional Manager.

Explore Minnesota is a quasi-governmental agency that markets and promotes tourism in Minnesota. They are holding five total listening sessions across the state to gain insight and help develop their 2020/2021 strategic direction.

“We want to be reaching out to all of the members of the industry in order to make sure that we’re telling the story of our region, of our area, in a way that is ringing true for the people who live there as well as the people we’re inviting to come there,” Lalum added.

Tourism is an integral part of Minnesota’s economy and is a $15.3 billion industry in the state.

“It’s over 270,000 jobs,” Lalum said. “That’s 11% of the private-sector employment in our state. It’s really quite a big deal.”

At the listening session, stakeholders felt positive about Explore Minnesota’s direction and branding and agreed that bringing more tourists to our state is beneficial for everyone.

“What we’re finding is that so far, the desired role for Explore Minnesota is to really provide that state branding and awareness of Minnesota,” said Edman. “To get that word out in a way that a lot of businesses can’t do on their own.”

Explore Minnesota hopes to keep growing the tourism industry in our state and bring more people to Minnesota.

“If someone is interested in, say, mountain biking, we don’t care if they happen to be in Indianapolis or in Omaha, we want them to come to Minnesota. Through a lot of techniques you have now today with media, we’re going to be able to reach them and we want to be able to get the message out to explore Minnesota,” said Edman.

Explore Minnesota will hold a listening session in Bemidji on May 23rd at the Northwest Minnesota Foundation.

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