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Politics & Government

Tourism 'big business' for North Dakota

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Dave Thompson
/
Prairie Public

03046 Tourism Burgum                                                      1-12-17 ddt

Statistics for 2015 show tourism is a big player in North Dakota’s economy.

A study shows nearly 22 million people visited North Dakota that year. They spent $3.1 billion dollars. And the study – done for North Dakota by the Pennsylvania-based Tourism Economics – shows the industry is outpacing many state industries.

"It's big business," said economist Adam Sacks with Tourism Economics. "As that money flows through the economy, it generates total business activity of $5 billion."

Sacks said the industry supported 42,000 jobs.

"That's 7 1/2 percent of all jobs in the state," Sacks said. "It ranks tourism as the 5th largest employer."

Goveror Doug Burgum said

tourism is important when you want to attract people to move to North Dakota. And he said the state is seeing a “golden age of tourism.”

"We have more young people living here that ever before," Burgum told reporters. "We've got more hotel rooms than we've ever had before.We have more attractions. And we have that because we have a business climate that has allowed entrepreneurs and investors to build hotels, restaurants, art galleries."

But Burgum said tourism must ""step up its game" when it comes to technology and tourism.

Burgum said so many people go on-line for hotel deals, and to look at recommendations on where to go and where to stay. He said he knows the state’s Tourism division is working on ways to give the state a more digital presence.

"These are simple things we can do that don't require legislation or budgets," Burgum said. "It's not bigger budgets -- it's better ideas."

Tourism director Sara Otte Coleman said her agency already has started tracking people who use digital platforms to plan trips to the state.

"It gives us tremendous new insight on mobile devices," Coleman said.

Coleman also said her division is working with their partners to make sure their digital presence is where it should be, and providing continued technical assistance and educatioon to them.

"You can't ever let your foot off the gas," Coleman said.

For 2017, the state’s tourism division will be continuing its “North Dakota Legendary” campaign, featuring Minot native Josh Duhamel.

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Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public
Gov. Doug Burgum and state Tourism Director Sara Otte Coleman at a state Capitol news conference (1-12-17)

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