The Minneapolis skyline by Star Tribune photographer Glen Stubbe in 2017
The Minneapolis-area welcomed a record 34.5 million visitors in 2018, up 3.7 percent from 2017, according to tourism-research firm DK Shifflet and Meet Minneapolis, the not-for-profit association that markets the area as a destination for conventions and meetings.
Meet Minneapolis said visitors spent $8 billion, up 3.3 %.
“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,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said in a prepared statement. “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.”
Meet Minneapolis pronounced 2018 “a healthy year for the tourism and hospitality industry,” including January-February 2018 Super Bowl activities.
The visitor impact on hotels generated a 70.8% occupancy rate for the year, up from 68.5% in 2017.
Minneapolis has 40 hotels that each offer 50 rooms or more. In addition, the number of tourism and hospitality jobs enjoyed a 3% increase in 2018, up more than 1,100 jobs from the year prior.
“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 workers and to show off all of our city’s great assets and amenities.” said Meet Minneapolis President and CEO Melvin Tennant.
In addition to Super Bowl-related activities, which attracted an estimated 125,000 out-of-town visitors; the American Legion’s 100th National Convention in August, brought in nearly 10,000 attendees. The Society of Women Engineers Conference in October attracted 12,000 people.
Meet Minneapolis said it has more in store this year. An estimated 23,000 youth and staff will converge July 11-15 at the Minneapolis Convention Center and U.S. Bank Stadium for the 2019 Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) Youth Gathering. The X Games are expected to attract 100,000-plus, between August 1-4, marking that event’s third consecutive appearance in Minneapolis.
Meet Minneapolis said the visitor count has risen every year since 2010, by an average of 4%, and expects, thanks to April's Men's Final Four basketball tournament and a "strong convention season" that the number of visitors will rise again in 2019.
Despite the freezing reputation, the Twin Cities have been hot lately.
Only four other markets have been picked to host the Super Bowl, men’s Final Four and women’s Final Four. Throw in markets that have held Major League Baseball's All-Star Game, and Minneapolis ranks only with Atlanta on that list.