The CEO of the Minneapolis tourism agency told a national conference downtown on Monday that leisure and hospitality is a growth industry that accounts for about 33,250 jobs in the city, or about 10 percent of employment, and which should reach 40,000 by 2030.
CEO Melvin Tennant of Meet Minneapolis, speaking to 850 attendees at a three-day conference this week of the U.S Travel Association’s annual Educational Seminar for Tourism Organization (ESTO), said a record 33 million visitors injected $7.6 billion in spending on hotels, restaurants, shopping and otherwise in the area.
By contrast, tourism-heavy Las Vegas drew about 43 million people last year.
Meet Minneapolis says the average household income of visitors tops $95,500 and sporting events are the No. 1 reason for tourist visits, including amateur and winter sports.
“Our goal is 50 million visitors by 2030,” Tennant said.
“The ESTO is important because any time we can bring our industry together in our city, it’s a great opportunity for us to show Minneapolis to the people who do what we do, and gather with industry partners to share information, network and learn together.
“We welcomed other visitor services people from around the country to our Minneapolis Visitor Information center on Nicollet Mall and Fifth Street for a session, which was an opportunity to show what we’ve done and what’s been successful for us, and to hear about what others are doing that we may want to consider.”
And it doesn’t take a Super Bowl, coming to Minneapolis next February, to ring cash registers.
More than 40,000 players, coaches and related visitors participated in the USA Volleyball Girls Junior National Championships at the Minneapolis Convention Center over a 10-day run in June and July that was single biggest visitor event of the year. Meet Minneapolis estimated USA Volleyball had a $50 million local economic impact, based on typical visitor spending over several days.
Big events next year include The American Legion National Convention with 9,500 attendees, the NCAA Division I Volleyball Championship (13,000 attendees) and the National Education Association Annual Meeting of 16,000 attendees. At the same conference Minnesota tourism director John Edman said the state generated $14.4 billion from tourism in 2015, about $40 million a day, and 260,000 related jobs account for about 11 percent of the state’s private sector employment and $5.1 billion in wages.