Our annual research, conducted by DK Shifflet, reveals that more than 33 million people visited the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area in 2017, breaking the previous year’s record by 2.5%, which had been an all-time high. In addition to new visitor totals, the new research also shows spending increased to record levels – up 2.6% to $7.8 billion last year compared to $7.6 billion in 2016. So, just imagine what our 2018 numbers will look like when we account for the Super Bowl and the numerous other major events in the city this year.
We receive this new data annually, coinciding with our celebration of National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW) during the first full week in May. According to the U.S. Travel Association, travel is a $2.4 trillion industry in the U.S., and visitors support 15.6 million American jobs—roughly 8.8 million direct travel jobs and 6.8 million indirect jobs. During this week, Meet Minneapolis is working with our partners on educational opportunities that specifically highlight the city’s diverse neighborhoods.
These impressive numbers don’t just happen on their own in our highly competitive destination marketplace. We have seen continued new and upgraded tourism infrastructure projects in our hotels, attractions, dining and entertainment communities. Our live theater partners are doing more and more to satisfy the discerning tastes of cultural visitors. And our public sector partners are working hard to improve our roads and transportation infrastructure, even if it seems that road construction is occurring all at once.
But beyond all the bricks and mortar, it’s the nearly 35,000 highly motivated and engaged professionals making their living in the hospitality/tourism industry in Minneapolis who have to fulfill on the promises we make to our increasing number of visitors.
To put our visitor numbers in perspective, let’s see where we stack up against other major metro areas in terms of total annual visitors:
Destination Visitors (millions)
- Chicago - 55
- Las Vegas - 42
- MSP - 33
- Indianapolis - 29
- St. Louis - 26
Keep in mind that our “Destination Transformation: 2030” tourism master plan has the aggressive goal of reaching 50 million annual visitors by the year 2030.
I am confident that with the team we have in place at Meet Minneapolis and in our local hospitality industry, we can surpass that 50 million goal. Thank you all for helping us make Minneapolis the destination of choice.