Minn. tourism recovering, but shutdown didn't helpby Elizabeth Dunbar, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — About 70 percent of lodging businesses in Minnesota said this summer was better or the same as last year, but the state government's 20-day shutdown left many visitors with a bad taste in their mouths.
The shutdown forced people who had planned to camp in a state park or purchase a state fishing license to make alternative plans, said John Edman, director of Explore Minnesota Tourism.
While that scenario ended up benefiting some tourism-related businesses, others had to deal with unhappy customers.
"The people who were complaining were fairly loud," Edman said. "They were frustrated and they let that frustration vent to a lot of my industry, and my industry is now venting back to us."
Even so, about 40 percent of the 300 respondents said occupancy was better this summer, and 30 percent said it was the same. Thirty percent said it was worse.
Edman said many business owners have changed the way they market their services and altered the timing of advertising.
"They also have to be very creative in trying to lure consumers to find out what's here in our state," Edman said.
While the overall numbers indicate continuing recovery from the recession, they mask another trend that has made it a little more difficult for business owners: last-minute planning on the part of vacationers.
"A lot of folks tell me that they were really concerned about the summer and lo and behold they ended up with occupancy that was near or better than it was last year," Edman said. "But it does create some nervous times."
Many of those in the survey had hoped for one last surge over the Labor Day weekend before classes begin today.