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Millions in additional funding sought for state’s tourism agency

A proposal to increase funding for Explore Minnesota Tourism would provide another $13.5 million in the 2020-21 biennium to promote the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Sponsored by Rep. Mike Sundin (DFL-Esko), HF584 was held over Wednesday by the House Environment and Natural Resources Finance Division for possible omnibus bill inclusion.

“One number that everyone should remember is for every $1 invested in state tourism in advertising, it generates an estimated $9 in state and local taxes and $92 in visitor spending,” Sundin said.

Gov. Tim Walz’s budget proposal released last month includes $2 million in additional onetime funding for the state’s tourism agency “to assist in funding and securing new events benefiting 
communities in the state.”

That $2 million appropriation is included in the bill, along with an additional $5.76 million in each fiscal year of the upcoming biennium over base appropriations of around $14.3 million in the governor’s budget, according to Sarah Psick, representing the Minnesota Tourism Growth Coalition.

Minnesota’s investment in its tourism agency is below average, according to Psick. By investing additional dollars, she posited, the state is better able to compete with its neighbors for visitors and events.

The state tourism agency creates opportunities for small businesses that would otherwise be out of reach, testified Bob Barton, owner of Hidden Haven Resort in Cohasset.

“EMT is able to do advertising buys that we can co-op into,” Barton explained, giving his resort and others an opportunity to attract visitors from out-of-state markets.

The companion, SF721, is sponsored by Sen. Carrie Ruud (R-Breezy Point), and awaits action by the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Finance Committee.


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