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Tourism up in Minnesota with Grand Casino, Mall of America as top destinations

Minnesota tourism rebounds to pre-pandemic levels
Minnesota tourism rebounds to pre-pandemic levels 02:09

MINNEAPOLIS  From the Great Lakes to the great shopping, Explore Minnesota says more people are noticing how great Minnesota is.

"Looking at our numbers, we can confidently say we're back to pre-pandemic levels," Explore Minnesota Communications and Media Relations Manager Chris Morgan said. 

According to a new report released by Explore Minnesota, trips to the state are up 1.5%. New numbers from the state tourism department show most visitors come from neighboring states, but not all. 

"People are really excited about Minnesota," Morgan said. "We're seeing Minnesota starting to gather some national attention. We've been listed on some really amazing publications, you know, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times have recently listed Minnesota as one of the best places to travel in 2024 citing some of our great attractions."

Grand Casino, Mall of America, downtown Minneapolis, Rochester and Duluth are all top destinations, according to the report.

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"Everyone is seeing kind of this general trend that people just love Duluth," Wild State Cider Director of Marketing Jane Jandl said.  

Explore Minnesota

Jandl and her team are gearing up for their taproom's busy season. Since opening up in 2019, the cidery has seen tremendous growth, with a nearly 300% increase from 2020 to 2022. However, when it comes to the taproom, Jandl says attendance is back to pre-pandemic levels. 

"It's really cool to be a part of this vibe that has been cultivated, putting visitors first and really making sure that folks enjoy their time when they come here," Jandl said. "Whether it's coming to our cidery or going to another local brewery or experiencing our parks or, you know, just experiencing a Lake Superior down on the shore. People really have a good time when they come here."

According to Visit Duluth, the city's tourism tax is up 16.6% since 2022. And in the last year, there was an increase of .4% despite a mild winter. In 2023, 21 of 23 neighborhoods saw positive growth. It's a trend that aligns with statewide data; showing travelers want more local experiences.

"Instead of focusing on what is in Minnesota, we want to ask a new question: How can I be a part of Minnesota?" Morgan said.

Morgan said it's a buzz Explore Minnesota is capitalizing on with its new Star of the North marketing campaign. The legislative-funded $25 million project aims to get people to travel and move to the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

"When it comes to tourism, obviously, in the past handful of years it's been up and down," Morgan said. "But with this new trending back up, you know, we're really excited to tell the story of what it's like in Minnesota."

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