Gov. Mark Dayton and the state’s top tourism official are making a dramatic push to increase tourism with a new campaign to showcase things visitors can do only in Minnesota.
“We are going much more aggressively trying to reach the out-of-state travelers,” Explore Minnesota Tourism director John Edman said.
An additional $11 million in state funding is allowing tourism officials to reach outside the immediate market, spreading for the first time into Missouri, Kansas and western states.
The campaign features new television commercials and showcase local music along and an aggressive social media effort that officials hope will allow them to engage with people thinking about visiting Minnesota.
“This new campaign is a movement that will highlight unique Minnesota attractions and engage consumers in conversation about Minnesota travel,” Edman said. “This cutting-edge campaign allows our state to be more competitive, and grow tourism across Minnesota.”
Tourism officials are trying to get an edge locally as states like Wyoming, Michigan and Wisconsin are spending millions to lure Minnesotans to their states.
Without an aggressive campaign, Edman said, Minnesota would lose out to other states, many of which still have higher tourism budgets.
Edman said the new campaign is designed to help Minnesota hold and grow what is already a $12.5 billion tourism industry, which employs more than 245,000 workers.
“We want to make it a preferred destination,” he said.
Tourism officials are paying for the new campaign from a 65 percent increase in their funding authorized in Dayton's budget.
"We have a great state and so much to offer," Dayton said.
Tourism officials said research shows that travelers want to experience something new when they travel, which is why they created the theme, “Only in Minnesota.” The ads showcase Minnesota’s outdoor adventures, cultural amenities and landmarks.
Tourism officials are encouraging visitors share photos and Minnesota travel experiences on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media by using the official campaign hashtag #OnlyinMN. Some of the images will be featured in future billboards or sent out via social media.
Tourism officials have also revamped their website making it more user-friendly and functional for smart phones. The website features vivid images and a live-chat function where visitors can ask questions about Minnesota destinations.
The website overhaul was part of Dayton’s initiative to have state agencies revamp communication with the public to make it in plainer language and more easy to understand.
“We have seen tremendous growth in visitor site traffic through mobile devices,” Edman said. “We need to meet travelers where they are, and that means being accessible on mobile devices and social media.”