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Tourism hoping for a rebound year

Dave Thompson
Prairie Public

North Dakota's Tourism Director is optimistic for the 2021 tourist season.

Sara Otte Coleman said 2020 was a "pretty terrible" year, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Our visitation numbers were down almost 20 percent," Otte Coleman said. "The revenue spent was down almost 30 percent."

Otte Coleman said spending on tourist activities dropped from $3 billion in 2019 to $2 billion in 2020. But she said it could have been worse.

"A lot of other states were impacted more dramatically," Otte Coleman said. "We're also further from major population centers, and people just weren't travelling very far."

But Otte Coleman said traffic to the Division's Website is up this year over last.

"We know people are going to be looking for road trips, and we're a road-trip destination," Otte Coleman said. "Historically, the bulk of our leisure travel is comprised of road-trippers, people that drive their personal vehicles into the state."

Otte Coleman said people seem to be most interested in national parks, scenic drives and historic sites.

"That's what we have to offer," Otte Coleman said.

The new state Travel Guide is geared toward the road-tripper, Otte Coleman said. And she said as things open up, travelers will notice new protocols for cleanliness at most attractions.

"I think people will feel safe travelling the state this summer, and they will see some great improvements that will probably continue," Otte Coleman said.

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