Kathy Cobb - Associate Editor
Published April 1, 1997 | April 1997 issue
The reasons why settlers claimed the Ninth District's plains and forests are many of the same reasons people flock to the region for vacations. In an era when many have disposable income and leisure time, the natural resources that were the seeds of farming, mining and the timber industry are the keystone of a growing tourism industry.
Ninth District travel and tourism outpaced the national economy in the early 1990s. Tourism growth in the district continues, but has not equaled that experienced in the late 1980s and early '90s. And while visitor numbers were less than exceptional in most district states in 1996, there was still substantial activity to confirm the importance of tourism to the regional economy.
Minnesota. Travel and tourism is one of the state's five leading industries, with $8.7 billion in economic impact and 163,000 jobs in 1995, the most recent year for which figures are available.
Montana. While agriculture is Montana's leading industry, tourism vies with wood products as the state's second or third top industry, in terms of employment and direct expenditures. About 8 million nonresidents visited the state in 1996, largely unchanged from the previous year. The direct impact to the state's economy is about 32,000 jobs and over $1.1 billion.
North Dakota. Tourism, the state's third leading industry, employs about 16,000, and brings in more than $50 million in tax revenue. In addition, about $912 million in direct expenditures can be attributed to tourism.
South Dakota. Total state spending impact of tourism from September 1995 through August 1996 was about $1.25 billion, generated by $505.7 million in direct visitor spending. Total state sales and gasoline tax receipts directly traceable to travelers amounted to $29.5 million.
Wisconsin. In 1996, travelers spent nearly $6.6 billion, a 7.4 percent increase over 1995; traveler expenditures generated $1.1 billion in state and local government revenues; and travel and tourism supported over 182,000 full-time equivalent jobs.
Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Tourism vies with wood products as the Upper Peninsula's (U.P.'s) number one contributor to the regional economy. Based on a telephone survey by the Travel, Tourism and Recreation Resource Center at Michigan State University, pleasure trip expenditures in 1996 were estimated at $1.6 billion in the U. P., or more than 17 percent of the state total. The survey region included Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin and Ontario.
The total number of trips taken by Americans has increased 45 percent from 1985 to 1995, according to the Travel Industry Association of America (TIAA). Even more dramatic is that 76 percent of U.S. adults made at least one trip of 100 miles or more away from home in 1995, compared to 1985 when that figure was 63 percent. (For purposes of measuring travel/tourism activity, travelers are defined as those who stay away from home for more than 24 hours in paid accommodations or who travel 100 miles or more away from home.)
In 1994, according to TIAA figures, travel and tourism: