The North Dakota Department of Commerce Tourism and Marketing Division reported record-breaking statistics in many areas of tourism for 2021 at the North Dakota Travel Industry Conference in Grand Forks this week.
Arrivals to the state, monitored with GPS technology, show that visitation was up 15.2% with increases from 49 states. Tourism Economics reported that visitation to the state rebounded despite the continued pandemic and obstacles for Canadian travelers. Visitors to the state spent $2.61 billion last year, generating $237.9 million in tax revenue for the state and local jurisdictions, according to the data compiled using federal sources like the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
U.S. Travel reports that North Dakota is currently 4% below 2019 spending levels. The border closure and associated protocols meant 1.22 million fewer personal vehicle and bus passengers from Canada entered the state which resulted in an estimated $132 million in lost spending.
“During the 2021 legislative session, $6.5 million in CARES Act funds were allocated to expand the state’s marketing, inspire visits, and raise awareness of North Dakota.” Tourism and Marketing Director Sara Otte Coleman said. “Those dollars allowed the expansion of marketing campaigns, new partnerships with media, testing of new markets, shoulder-season advertising, and an improved digital presence for North Dakota.”
As a direct result, traffic to NDtourism.com increased 25.6%, with a record 2.15 million visits (this, on top of a 56% increase in 2020). Website visits are a top signal of intent-to-travel, and it was encouraging to see 281,712 referrals to partner sites.
Tourism’s public and social media relations efforts also posted record-breaking results as travel media were anxious to explore the state. Positive media coverage resulted in 231 media placements reaching more than 1.33 billion with an additional 1.46 million impressions from their influencer campaign. Social media had a record-breaking year with 31 million impressions and video views of 1.9 million.
Global Marketing continued to focus on virtual sales missions, digital pitching, and innovative ways to showcase the state garnering more than 100 stories reaching 83.8 million. Group Travel was back hosting development tours visiting 26 communities while Outdoor Marketing saw success promoting stories from the field with The Flush podcast that contributed to a 3% increase in nonresident small game license sales.
The results of 2021’s promotional investments continue to be seen in these first few months of 2022 and the tourism team is building on this great momentum.