The lake tradition is back
In March 2018, a headline in The Duluth News Tribune (DNT) read, “The Last Resorts: Minnesota facing disappearance of summer lake tradition.” Then, in March of 2020, things got worse when the pandemic hit the country — and the tourism industry — hard. In April 2020, readers of the Minneapolis Star Tribune woke to a pleading headline that read, “Northern Minnesota resort owners want your business.” In May 2020, a headline on the MPR News website read, “Sorry, we have to cancel: Minnesota resorts worry about their survival.” The future looked bleak for Minnesota tourism.
But in the spring of 2020 something happened. Call it a ray of hope. An Executive Order came down from the Governor of Minnesota, allowing for safe outdoor recreation. This meant that people could once again feel safe to get out and enjoy the outdoors.
More and more people began to vacation and recreate in the great outdoors — choosing lake communities, resorts and state parks as places to spend time with family and friends responsibly. Whether on a trail, on a lake, in a tent, in a cabin or in a camper, it didn’t matter. People needed something – anything – to get the hell out of town!
Then more good news arrived in July 2020, when Travel+Leisure published a feature that ranked the 25 Best Lake Vacations in the U.S. They placed the grouping of Lake Superior, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin at #2. Number TWO! Out of every possible place in the country! In September of that same year, WCCO CBS Minnesota reported, “Some Minnesota Resorts Enjoying Extended Summer Season Amid Pandemic.”
Minnesota tourism was back. More to the point, it had never left.
It ended up being a good year for lake traditions and for several lucky communities and businesses. The uptick in tourism became something to be thankful for. A ray of sunshine during a year with very dark days. 2020 became the summer when the lake tradition was reignited. A time when people reconnected.
This is the guiding star for tourism marketing in 2021. The momentum that businesses in this category need to leverage to take them through this summer, fall and winter and into 2022. It’s the perfect piece of advice for small resorts and large tourism associations. Whether it’s updating a website, launching a campaign or undertaking a complete rebranding.
No two years are the same. And, certainly, no one can predict the future. So appreciate what you have, share what you can and invite people to your corner of the world for a little piece of peace.