North Dakota Tourism Research Study Shows Visitors Spend $3.1 Billion

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North Dakota’s visitor activity contributes $327 million in state and local tax revenues

BISMARCK, N.D. – North Dakota Tourism today released new research showing 21.9 million people visited the state in 2015, spending $3.1 billion. The study, commissioned by North Dakota Tourism and conducted by Tourism Economics, indicates tourism is outpacing many state industries and positively impacts every county statewide.

“Tourism and the travel economy are well-positioned for growth and can help us diversify our economy, attract a skilled workforce and sustain and grow vibrant communities throughout North Dakota,” Gov. Doug Burgum said. “Visitors also appreciate walkable downtowns that honor our past and celebrate our uniqueness.  These three pillars that we have outlined for economic success tie directly to our state’s tourism infrastructure and marketability.”

The study showed tourism in North Dakota equals approximately 4 percent of the gross domestic product and contributes 5.8 percent to the state’s tax base. In 2015, visitor activity directly contributed $327 million in state and local tax revenues with visitor spending concentrated in amenities: 29.8 percent spent on food and beverages, 21.6 percent on retail and 12.7 percent on recreation.

“Tourism has been a consistent catalyst of state economic growth, outpacing the rest of the North Dakota economy over the past 15 years in terms of both employment and personal income,” said Adam Sacks, Tourism Economics. “We’ve found that fostering the visitor economy is inextricably linked with broader economic development. Beyond spending money, visitors support air service, which is vital to current and potential investors. And visitors also help sustain the amenities, culture and other attractions that benefit North Dakota’s quality of life – again making the state more attractive to investors.”

“We work to keep a pulse on all areas of the tourism industry,” North Dakota Department of Commerce Tourism Division Director Sara Otte Coleman said. “We thoroughly monitor visitor activity, marketing strategies, trends and traffic patterns. Our research consistently shows that tourism is an integral part of North Dakota’s economy.”

More than 42,000 jobs were sustained by the visitor economy in North Dakota, representing 7.5 percent of all employment in the state.

“Our research-driven strategy is the core of our success and drives our efforts in marketing North Dakota,” Coleman said. “North Dakota’s tourism industry generates revenue for our businesses, communities and government.”

Tourism Economics is headquartered in Philadelphia and has worked with more than 200 destinations to quantify the economic value of tourism, forecast demand, guide strategy and evaluate policy. Current clients include Visit California, Wisconsin Tourism and South Dakota Tourism