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Rains didn't dampen summer tourism in Minnesota

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It seemed like it would be hard for Minnesota's tourism industry to improve on the strong summer of 2015.

But the annual end-of-summer survey by the state tourism agency Explore Minnesota suggests that's indeed what happened.

Regardless of what part of the state they're in and no matter if they have a resort, a campground, or a motel, the owners of those lodgings generally reported that this year beat last year, Explore Minnesota says.

And that's saying something because 2015 was the strongest summer since the group started doing the surveys in 2008.

Explore Minnesota director John Edman says "Minnesota continues to be an attractive, close-to-home getaway for our core target markets, and is gaining the attention of more travelers from further away."

Why the good year?

Explore Minnesota credits a strong economy and good summer weather.

Consumer confidence does seem to be growing, according to The Conference Board. Their national monthly assessment, the Consumer Confidence Survey, showed August was the strongest month in nearly a year.

But the good weather argument might be a little wet behind the ears.

Granted, there were a lot of nice days. In between some really big storms.

MPR News said this week that in the Twin Cities 2016 is on pace to edge out 1911 for wettest year on record, with more than 17 inches of precipitation through August 30.

And the Brainerd Lakes area has that beat. The Brainerd Dispatch says the city's airport measured 21 inches from the start of June through the end of August.

But keeping most of their rooms full, rain or shine, has those in the industry optimistic about prospects for fall tourism.

The Explore Minnesota survey (see full results of it here) found nearly one-third of respondents expect to see a rise in occupancy while 19 percent predict a fall decline compared to last year.

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