During the COVID-19 crisis, Explore Minnesota is staying in touch with Minnesota’s tourism industry with periodic surveys. Reports of results from these surveys include suggestions by respondents about how Explore Minnesota can support the industry, as well as summaries of business impacts reported by respondents:
Release Date: July 17, 2020
Metrics include data for the most current available month, and year-to-date data through that month.
Updated on 7/17/20 with data through June2020.
To comply with STR's conditions for re-publishing this data, EMT will replace the posted data with data for the subsequent month, when it is provided to EMT. This will typically take place approximately 18 to 20 days after the end of the month in question. At that time, only data for the new current month will be available. Lodging performance data for previous months and years can be purchased from STR.
Republication or other re-use of this data without the express written permission of STR is strictly prohibited.
Release Date: June 15, 2020
Minnesota Resorts Saw Healthy Sales Growth in 2018
Sales and state sales tax at Minnesota resorts grew for a ninth consecutive year in 2018. Statewide 4.4% sales and state sales tax growth were accompanied by the smallest decline in the number of resorts (i.e., 10) since 2014. In our current, challenging business environment, this just-released 2018 data from the Minnesota Department of Revenue serves as a bittersweet reminder of better times, a short while ago.
According to the report, statewide gross sales increased 4.4% to $319.9 million in 2018 and state sales tax increased 4.4% to $19.5 million. These changes continued a trend of annual growth in statewide resort sales and state sales tax that started in 2010. The number of Minnesota resorts reported for 2018 (i.e., 706) represented a decrease of 10 resorts (-1.4%), following more substantial declines of 24 resorts (-3.2%) in 2017 and 28 resorts (-3.6%) in 2016. The 2018 resort losses occurred in Minnesota’s central and northwest regions. Between 2004 and 2018, gross sales at Minnesota resorts increased 40.4% while the number of resorts decreased 28.2%.
The following three graphs show a timeline of gross sales, state sales tax and number of Minnesota resorts from 2004 through 2018, including regional and statewide totals. Resort data in the graphs is available in a series of annual reports, including county detail down to the county level, accessible via links found immediately below the graphs. The graphs depict growth through 2007, followed by recession-related declines in 2008 and 2009 before a return to growth in 2010. Four regions through 2006 were replaced by five regions starting in 2007, after reconfiguration of tourism regions. Since then, resort activity has been similar for each of the three northern regions (i.e., northwest, central and northeast regions), as evidenced by the close proximity of their lines on the graphs.
Total sales activity at the relatively few metro and southern region resorts has been considerably lower than for northern regions, as evidenced by the overlapping metro and southern region lines at the bottom of the graphs through 2010. Starting in 2011, the small amount of remaining metro resort activity was distributed equitably among the other regions in order to avoid disclosing specific information about them, when the number of metro resorts dropped below four that year. The scale of southern regional activity makes it is hard to see on the graphs that the southern region experienced significant growth in gross sales (86%) and state sales tax (74%) in 2018, following substantial declines in 2017. The southern region’s relatively small number of resorts leaves it more susceptible to swings like this, compared with the northern regions.
Complete annual sales tax statistics for Minnesota resorts, by region and county, beginning with 2004. Two additional reports cover 1985 through 2000, one providing the number of resorts and the other providing gross sales at resorts for most of the years during this period. (Note: The Minnesota Department of Revenue did not provide resort reports for all of these years.)
2017 Resort Sales & Use Tax Statistics
2016 Resort Sales & Use Tax Statistics
2015 Resort Sales & Use Tax Statistics
2014 Resort Sales & Use Tax Statistics
2013 Resort Sales & Use Tax Statistics
2012 Resort Sales & Use Tax Statistics
2011 Resort Sales & Use Tax Statistics
2010 Resort Sales & Use Tax Statistics
2009 Resort Sales & Use Tax Statistics
2008 Resort Sales & Use Tax Statistics
2007 Resort Sales & Use Tax Statistics
2006 Resort Sales & Use Tax Statistics
2005 Resort Sales & Use Tax Statistics
2004 Resort Sales & Use Tax Statistics
1985 - 2000 Number of Minnesota Resorts, by County
1985 - 2000 Gross Sales at Minnesota Resorts, by County
International Visitors to Minnesota
International Travel Spending in Minnesota
This article and graphs are provided under permission granted by STR, the source of the data.
First quarter 2020 lodging performance metrics revealed the first impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Minnesota’s lodging properties. Impacts included double-digit quarterly declines in four of Minnesota’s six lodging metrics, plus a less dramatic 2.8% decline in room rates. Sharp March declines came on the heels of much smaller declines in February lodging metrics. Metro area negative impacts were generally more substantial than greater Minnesota impacts. Statewide room supply growth remained strong over the past 12 months, and ticked up to its highest monthly growth rate in March. Two sets of graphs, with links below, show changes in Minnesota’s lodging metrics for the first quarter of 2020 and monthly for the last 12 months.
First Quarter 2020 Lodging Performance Changes for Minnesota, the U.S., the Region and Minnesota Areas – Even though travel impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic did not ramp up until a week or two into March, they were severe enough for a few weeks to substantially alter quarterly lodging performance across the country. The impacts can be seen in first quarter declines for five of six lodging metrics, with the exception being room supply – the only metric that does not quickly adjust to market conditions. Minnesota experienced double-digit quarterly declines in four metrics: revenue per available room (i.e., RevPAR, -20.5%), occupancy (-18.2%), revenue (-17.5%) and demand (-15.1%). Statewide average daily room rates declined by 2.8%. Room supply was the only metric to show positive statewide first quarter growth (3.7%). Room supply growth was concentrated in the metro area and Rochester.
Minnesota’s year-over-year first quarter declines were similar to U.S. declines for most lodging metrics, and greater than regional (i.e., the seven-state West North Central U.S.) declines for most metrics. One exception was that Minnesota’s 3.7% first quarter room supply growth exceeded supply growth of both the U.S. (2.0%) and the region (2.1%). Metro area lodging declines were generally more substantial than declines for greater Minnesota, though this varied by metric and by area. It is notable that, among Minnesota’s 11 distinct market areas (i.e., five in the metro and six in greater Minnesota), first quarter RevPAR declines for all five metro areas exceeded RevPAR declines for each of the six greater Minnesota areas.
Year-over-year first quarter changes in Minnesota lodging metrics (i.e., 2020 compared with 2019) and 2019 compared with 2018 (in parentheses) were:
Month-by-Month Lodging Performance for Minnesota – COVID-19--related March declines are hard to miss on graphs of change in Minnesota’s monthly lodging metrics over the past 12 months. Prior to March declines, February signaled a downturn, registering the second weakest monthly statewide changes for all metrics except room supply. Another notable month over the 12-month stretch was April 2019, when the NCAA Men’s Final Four basketball tournament was held in Minneapolis. That event was reflected in substantial April 2019 growth in statewide average room rates (10.5%), RevPAR (12.1%) and revenue (14.9%). Monthly room supply growth varied from April through December 2019, before ticking up through the first three months of 2020 and topping out at 4.4% growth in March.
Click below for accompanying graphs of Minnesota lodging performance (repeats of links from above):
Detailed March and year-to-date lodging metrics for Minnesota can be viewed online for a limited time at Current STR Lodging Metrics for Minnesota. (Note: The most current available monthly lodging metrics are replaced by data for the subsequent month when they are provided by STR.)
Previous Quarterly Lodging Performance Reports
Release Date: Jul 2, 2020
Minnesota 2019 Tourism Advertising ROI/Economic Impact – SMARInsights providing estimates of the volume and value of travel influenced by Explore MinnesotaTourism (EMT) spring/summer 2019 paid marketing efforts and measuring the effectiveness of Minnesota's 2019 spring/summer advertising campaign and to provide insight into the aspects of the campaign that were successful, as well as identifying opportunities for refinement.
Minnesota 2019 Tourism Advertising Creative Evaluation + Niche Analysis providing estimates of the volume and value of travel influenced by paid advertising.
Release Date: March 13, 2020
Complete annual sales tax statistics reports for Minnesota's Leisure and Hospitality Industry, beginning with 2004. Includes Accommodations; Food Services and Drinking Places; and Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation Industries, with a separate table in each annual report for each tourism region and county. The contents page (first page) serves as a guide to the geographic area(s) of interest to you.
2017 Leisure and Hospitality Sales Tax Statistics
2016 Leisure and Hospitality Sales Tax Statistics
2015 Leisure and Hospitality Sales Tax Statistics
2014 Leisure and Hospitality Sales Tax Statistics
2013 Leisure and Hospitality Sales Tax Statistics
2012 Leisure and Hospitality Sales Tax Statistics
2011 Leisure and Hospitality Sales Tax Statistics
2010 Leisure and Hospitality Sales Tax Statistics
2009 Leisure and Hospitality Sales Tax Statistics
2008 Leisure and Hospitality Sales Tax Statistics
2007 Leisure and Hospitality Sales Tax Statistics
2006 Leisure and Hospitality Sales Tax Statistics
2005 Leisure and Hospitality Sales Tax Statistics
2004 Leisure and Hospitality Sales Tax Statistics
- Overview: Results from a recent Explore Minnesota survey of Minnesota lodging and camping properties showed this summer to be another in a string of strong summer travel seasons. The informal survey showed summer 2019 occupancy and revenue levels to be up overall, compared with summer 2018. Positive results extended across all accommodation types. All regions of the state also experienced positive or neutral summer business levels. The positive results were achieved, despite the constraints room supply growth continues to impose on occupancy and room rate growth.
In addition, the survey also provided a positive assessment of business expectations for the upcoming fall season for all accommodation types and Minnesota regions, as well as a continuation of positive financial health among Minnesota accommodations. Open-ended responses attributed the successful summer to recent efforts to strengthen respondents’ marketing and social media strategies, good customer service, property renovations and improvements, and the sustained strength of the economy. Many respondents also noted challenges related to increased room supply and private vacation rentals.
- Summer 2019 (June through August) Occupancy and Revenue: Survey results indicated higher occupancy and revenue for summer 2019 compared with summer 2018. (Note: For this and other survey questions about year-over-year changes, only the direction but not the degree of change was ascertained.) For occupancy, a weighted average 42% of respondents reported that summer 2019 occupancy was up, 31% reported that it was the same and 26% reported that it was down compared with summer 2018. For revenue, a weighted average 49% of respondents reported that summer 2019 revenue was up, while 27% reported that it was the same and 24% reported that it was down from 2018. (Note: Percentages may not total 100% due to rounding. Also, see the “rebalancing by accommodation type” section below for an explanation of weighted averages.) These results portray a strong summer for Minnesota travel. They also represent a continuation of uninterrupted strong Minnesota summer travel business growth in recent years, extending back to the beginning of the industry’s recovery from the Great Recession in 2010. This trend is consistent with a national trend over the same period.
All accommodation types experienced positive summer 2019 occupancy and revenue results, defined here as results where more respondents reported that occupancy or revenue was up than reported that occupancy or revenue was down. Campgrounds showed the strongest growth. Also, with one exception, each of Minnesota’s tourism regions had positive occupancy and revenue results. The exception was the central region, which saw positive revenue results but only neutral occupancy results, with the same number of respondents reporting that summer occupancy was up as reporting that summer occupancy was down.
The number of state park campsites and indoor units that were occupied from June 1 through August 15, 2019 was unchanged from a year earlier. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reported just over 188,200 occupied campsites and indoor units over that period for each year. State parks, along with state and national forest campgrounds, were not included in Explore Minnesota’s summer survey.
The summer business growth reflected in survey results defies growing speculation over a looming recession. The results also indicate that businesses were able to overcome the negative impacts of continued supply growth on occupancy rates and room rates. While Minnesota’s room supply growth has long exceeded national growth rates, supply growth at Minnesota hotels and motels has experienced a recent geographic shift. Following an extended period of disproportionate metro room supply growth, gradually slowing metro supply growth and gradually increasing greater Minnesota supply growth have recently combined to result in similar metro and greater Minnesota supply growth rates.
- Expectations for Fall (September and October 2019): Respondents’ outlook for fall 2019 business levels was also quite positive. Weighted average expectations for fall 2019 occupancy compared with fall 2018 occupancy were as follows: up 28%; same 58%; and down 15%. Weighted average expectations results for fall 2019 revenue compared with fall 2018 revenue were: up 31%; same 55%; and down 14%. Relative to results for summer 2019 business levels, results for fall 2019 expectations shifted toward the middle (i.e., toward same) for both occupancy and revenue. Respondents provided more same responses for fall expectations (58% for same occupancy and 55% for same revenue) than for summer results (31% for same occupancy and 27% for same revenue). All accommodation types and regions reflected positive expectations for fall occupancy and fall revenue.
- Financial Health: Eight out of 10 (80% weighted average) respondents rated their business’s current financial health as positive. The 80% result was slightly lower than the summer 2018 positive financial health result (83%), but solidly in the upper half of the range of summer positive financial health results that have ranged between 69% and 87% since 2010. The positive responses included 29% “growing,” up from 27% a year ago, and 51% “stable, but positive,” down from 56% a year ago. Only 18% of respondents rated their financial health as negative, including 13% “stable, but negative” and 5% “declining.” Two percent of respondents did not know how to rate their current financial health. At least 70% of respondents from each accommodation type and at least 73% of respondents from each tourism region rated their financial health as positive.
- Trends and Other Comments: Open-ended questions asked about new and recurring trends in customer comments, and things that impacted summer business or may impact fall business. Positive themes among comments included the effects of the continued strong economy, though a few comments noted increased price sensitivity and financial worries expressed by guests. Similar to other recent surveys, respondents have reaped benefits from focusing on strengthening their marketing and social media strategies. Good customer service and property renovations/improvements received multiple mentions as strong contributors to business success and customer satisfaction. Numerous responses cited increased group business. Many comments addressed negative impacts of competition posed by private rentals. However, comments from an increasing number of traditional establishments in this and other recent surveys attribute some of their positive results to their use of private rental services to sell rooms.
Many outdoor-oriented businesses reflected on negative impacts of a second consecutive late spring and wet start of summer, but also to the benefit of exceptionally good weather as the season progressed. Nearby room supply increases hampered business levels for a number of respondents, while limited competition due to recent closings of nearby resorts benefitted a few resorts. Numerous comments noted problems related to workforce shortages, an increasingly prevalent theme. A few respondents cited the high cost of doing business, including taxes and fees. This survey included fewer political comments than other recent surveys, ranging from attribution of business success to President Trump’s policies to the uncertainty those policies and the political climate pose for the future of the economy and their business.
Many comments pointed to customers searching for the best possible deal, and having an increasingly easier time doing so online, including with their phones at the last minute. Customers continue to book with short notice, and have very high expectations for facilities and services, including Wi-Fi and all aspects of customer service. Respondents noted increased demand for one-night and partial-week stays at facilities that are not set up to accommodate them. While numerous respondents attributed some of their business success to a high level of repeat business, others noted challenges in that realm due to generational differences with younger customers being more interested in varied travel adventures that preclude repeat visits. Though largely absent from respondent comments, relatively low gas prices undoubtedly also contributed to summer travel levels.
- Survey Invitation Lists, and Response Rates: Explore Minnesota conducted an informal online survey in late August 2019, soliciting responses by email from 1,660 accommodations (indoor lodging properties and campgrounds) throughout Minnesota that have provided Explore Minnesota with an email address. A total of 300 responses were received for an 18.1% response rate. All but four respondents qualified to take the survey based on their response to a question confirming that they were open during the summer 2019 season. Of the 296 qualified respondents, 281 (95%) progressed through the core questions of the online questionnaire. Results reported here reflect self-reported data from all respondents.
- Responses by Accommodation Type: The distribution of survey responses by type of accommodation over-represented “other” accommodations including vacation home rentals and vacation properties (13% of responses, compared with vacation home rentals representing 6% of the distribution of accommodations). The distribution of survey responses also over-represented B&B/historic inns (8% of responses, 7% of distribution). Thirty-six percent of responses were from hotels/motels, the same portion as this sector represents in the total distribution of accommodations. . The distribution of survey responses under-represented resorts (33% of responses, 36% of distribution) and campgrounds (11% of responses, 15% of distribution).
- Rebalancing by Accommodation Type: Results for most survey questions were rebalanced to minimize the distortion caused by substantial over- or under-representation of respondents in some accommodation types. Weighted average results reflect Minnesota’s distribution of properties by accommodation type (found above under “responses by accommodation type”).
- Responses by Region: Two of Minnesota’s five tourism regions were over-represented by survey respondents – northeast, with 31% of responses compared with 23% of Minnesota’s total distribution of accommodations; and central, with 26% of responses compared with 22% of distribution. Three regions were under-represented – northwest with 12% of responses compared with 19% of the total distribution of accommodations; the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro region, with 12% of responses compared with 17% of distribution; and southern, with 18% of responses compared with 19% of distribution.
- Summary statistics for the survey can be viewed online at Results for Survey Questions.
Previous Seasonal Industry Survey Reports
Annual Minnesota Accommodations and Attractions Database Comparisons, beginning with 2002. Some lodging categories have changed over the years. Attractions were added in 2010, and appear as the last page of the report.
View the report here.
Release Date: Jan 14, 2019
This report provides annual counts of international arrivals at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, based on their country of origin and world region. It is solely based on passenger itineraries and does not designate passenger nationality.
New starting with the 2017 report, passenger volume is broken down into the following categories:
o Origin (more likely to be visitors to the U.S.)
o Destination (more likely to be U.S. residents)
o Other (insufficient information to categorize as origin or destination).
While statistics reflect itinerary origins, they provide no indication of passenger nationality or residency. Also, U.S. residents returning from international travels are not differentiated from residents of other countries arriving for a visit to the United States.
As an example, a passenger may have started in South Africa, flew to India, then France and on to MSP. Previous to 2017, reports provided no indication about whether the passenger was more likely to be an international visitor to the U.S. versus a U.S. resident returning from South Africa. However, starting in 2017, origin versus destination categorization provides that indication, as long as the point of origin was discernible from a single (i.e., round trip) itinerary.
These statewide and regional lists include attractions for which attendance was monitored and reported to Explore Minnesota. Attractions on the lists are ranked by attendance and feature things to see or do that are entertaining, recreational or educational in nature, and cater to tourists. Additional information about the lists is provided in notes at the bottom of each list.
Release Date: September 17, 2018