In a preseason survey by Explore Minnesota Tourism, the state tourism office, thirty-eight percent of lodging and camping businesses expect higher occupancy this summer and forty-six percent expect occupancy similar to last year. Forty-four percent expect an increase in revenue for the summer season. This year's survey was completed by 240 businesses, including hotels and motels, resorts, B&Bs, campgrounds, and vacation home rentals.
"Overall, our travel industry is pretty optimistic about the upcoming summer season," said John Edman, director of Explore Minnesota Tourism. "Consumers are feeling better about the economy and their own pocketbooks, and there's pent-up demand to get out and travel."
Travelers are still somewhat cautious about their spending, however. Tourism businesses report an increase in customers seeking deals and discounts. "Minnesota is an affordable destination and a close-to-home getaway for our target markets, which appeals to budget-conscious travelers," said Edman.
A tenacious winter delayed the spring travel season, resulting in less travel for outdoor recreation in the past few weeks. In the preseason survey, more than half of responding resorts and campgrounds reported that occupancy this spring was lower than last year. On the other hand, among responding hotels and motels, whose business is much less weather-dependent, more than half reported that occupancy this spring was up.
In fact, overall, Minnesota lodging businesses are having a very good year so far. According to Smith Travel Reports, demand for rooms was up seven percent for the first four months of 2013, with room revenues up nine percent. Expectations for the summer season are positive, as well.
After three years of moderate growth in travel, key metrics for Minnesota's lodging industry have finally surpassed prerecession levels. As of April, data from Smith Travel Reports indicated that occupancy and revenue at Minnesota lodging businesses have recovered to levels of five years ago.
An unexpected spike in gas prices this month is a short-term concern. But high gas prices have not had a significant impact on Minnesota travel in the past, and gas prices are expected to go down by the peak summer travel season.
The Explore Minnesota advertising campaign is underway in several Midwest markets, and visits to the state travel website and highway travel information centers have increased over the past year. According to recent research, each dollar spent on Minnesota state tourism advertising generates $84 in spending by visitors. "Communities across the state will benefit from the summer travel season," noted Edman.
Source and Photo: Explore Minnesota Tourism