One of my most vivid memories of moving to Minneapolis in 2007 was the large hole in the ground I saw on my way to work. That spot would become Target Field. I remember a proliferation of historic buildings being converted to boutique hotels. I also remember marveling at Metro Transit’s Blue Line, then seeing the Green Line emerge just in time for the MLB All Star Game.
Upon those reflections and a host of others, it is apparent that our region has been on a journey to greater prominence as a destination for a long time.
Another reminder of our perennial success is the increase in visitors to our region over that time. In fact, we have seen steady growth in our visitor count since 2010. We welcome the positive news and do not take it for granted. And that is why it continues to give our community pride that our 2018 visitor count set yet another record.
Annually, we receive data on visitor numbers and visitor spending from DK Shifflet. I am very pleased to share that the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan region set records for both.
2018 By the Numbers:
- 34.5 million total visitors to Minneapolis/St. Paul region in 2018 – a healthy 3.7% increase over the number of visitors in 2017
- $8 billion in total visitor spending in 2018 – a 3.3% year-over-year increase
- Visitors also generated more than $8 million in lodging taxes alone for the city of Minneapolis, which helps reduce the property tax burden for residents.
According to Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey:
“These serious increases in visitors and visitor spending in the Minneapolis region means we’re moving in the right direction for achieving one of our goals: showing the rest of the world that Minneapolis is a world-class destination. This is also good news for our economy. The tourism and hospitality industry accounts for close to 36,000 jobs in Minneapolis – the fourth largest driver of jobs in the city by industry – underscoring the role tourism plays in our economic success.”
As many of you know, Meet Minneapolis works to promote and sell the city for the economic benefit of our community. Whether it’s a convention at the Minneapolis Convention Center that brings in thousands of attendees, or a marquee sporting event, our goal is to support the economic well-being of our tourism and hospitality workers and to show off our city’s great assets and amenities.
Clearly, Super Bowl LII had an impact on our 2018 numbers as a mega event should. Thanks to the Super Bowl, Final Four and other big events, we’ve proven ourselves as a major, championship-caliber host city. But, collectively, we are much more than that. We bring 600-700 hundred events to the Minneapolis region each year. And while we celebrate our numbers from last year, know that our sales team is hard at work to continue the momentum – recently we’ve secured major conventions for 2021, 2023, 2024, 2027 and beyond.
Sooner than that, you’ll see more than 22,000 youth and staff converge at the Minneapolis Convention Center and U.S. Bank Stadium for the 2019 Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) Youth Gathering (July 11-15). The X Games will bring thousands more visitors, marking that event’s third consecutive appearance in Minneapolis (August 1-4). And in September, approximately 9,000 people will attend Railway Interchange 2019, which is the largest railway exhibition and technical conference in North America.
Other notable events that we will host later this year include the Knights of Columbus 2019 Supreme Council Annual Meeting and the National Indian Education Association 2019 - 50th Anniversary Convention.
At the end of the day, our industry is about the people who serve tirelessly in our local hospitality/travel industry. We may get caught up the proliferation of technology, but it is the dedicated women and men of our industry that keep the promises to our increasing number of visitors to the metro area. We salute all of you as we keep the momentum going.