Local tourism leaders lobby lawmakers for more funding

ST. CLOUD — As state lawmakers return to Capitol Hill after the Easter recess, members of the tourism industry are lobbying legislative leaders to help rebuild the industry.

Rachel Thompson is the executive director of Visit Greater St. Cloud and the public policy chair of the Association of Convention and Visitors Bureau of Minnesota.

She says one of their top priorities is to make sure the back to school after Labor Day stays.

Ensuring that these families have the opportunity to get out and travel as many weeks during the summer as possible before school starts is very important not only for the tourism industry, but also for the hospitality industry.

Thompson says moving the start of the school year before Labor Day weekend would impact the tourism industry, which is still recovering from losses caused by the pandemic.

The travel and tourism industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, losing $11.6 billion since January 2020.

Thompson says other key priorities for this session include preserving the lodging tax and pushing for increased funding for tourism.

She says the funding has a big impact on how they market locally.

These funds can be used as bid fees to host a new event in town, as marketing dollars to attract new business, as hobby markets and much more. It just depends on why our community needs us to use it.

Thompson says the House and Senate have each allocated funds for the tourism industry, but a deal has not been finalized.

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