Nice weather, improved economy gives Minnesota's tourism industry a boost

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Favorable weather and an improved economy helped give Minnesota its strongest summer travel season since 2008.

That's according to a recent survey conducted by Explore Minnesota, the state's tourism promotion office, which found that lodging business growth and financial health was at their highest levels since comparable data was first gathered in 2008.

Eighty-seven percent of businesses that responded to the survey rated their current financial health as growing, or stable, but positive, while 51 percent of the businesses said their summer occupancy was up, and 62 percent saw increased revenue compared to last year – when the industry saw its fifth straight year of summer-season growth.

Explore Minnesota cites the weather as a leading factor as to why the tourism boomed again this summer.

In fact, the Minnesota Department of Natural resources' Summer Glory Index (SGI) shows this summer (June through August) ranks third on the all-time list of glorious summers, which dates back to 1903. Only 1922 and 2008 earned higher scores.

Fall tourism outlook is positive

Explore Minnesota Director John Edman said in a news release that “2015 has been, and will continue to be, a strong year for Minnesota’s $13 billion tourism industry."

The organization notes the outlook for fall travel is also positive, with 34 percent of lodging business expect increased occupancy and 43 percent anticipating higher revenue compared to fall 2014.

This is mirrored in national travel projections. AAA's forecast estimated 35.5 million Americans would be traveling over the Labor Day weekend – the highest volume since 2008.

The travel and tourism industry accounts for 17 percent of all sales tax revenue in the state, and provides 250,000 jobs, Explore Minnesota notes.

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