January 22, 2001
Last week in Bloomington, the Department of Tourism held its annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism. The theme for this year’s conference was: Mirror on Minnesota: Culture, Arts and Heritage Tourism. At the closing session on January 18, the Governor delivered a rousing speech about cultural and heritage tourism and said several nice things about the arts we’d like to share:
“I know that all of you have been working hard this past year, attracting travelers to your businesses and communities, and providing the quality vacation experience your visitors are looking for. I’ve been working hard for tourism this past year, as well. I’m proud to be called ‘Jesse, the Tourism Governor.’ I believe tourism is an investment we should be makingâ€¦
“You’ve spent the last couple of days talking about how to build tourism around our state’s arts and heritage.
“We’ve got the amazing Guthrie Theater. It draws an audience from all 50 states and Canada. Twenty percent of the Guthrie audience is from outside of the Twin Cities area. The Minnesota Opera has a growing subscriber base from out-of-state markets like Iowa, Wisconsin and Canada. They recently have had ticket orders from as far away as Ohio and Oregon following a story in the Washington Post.
“And that’s just the arts. Our historic sitesÃplaces like Split Rock Lighthouse and the Lindbergh Home and Interpretive Center, regularly draw visitors from across the country, and even around the world. Even smaller, less known historic sites regularly see out-of-state visitors. So the potential is there. We just need to build on what we’ve got.
“What’s exciting about cultural tourism is that every community has something to offer.
“We’ve got terrific little arts communities like Grand Marais, with its playhouse, art galleries and art school, and North House Folk School; or New York Mills and the ‘Great American Think-Off.’
“Ã‰The town of Luverne decided to make something out of the fact that well-known photographer Jim Brandenburg grew up there. They boldly asked him if he’d be willing to have a gallery of his work on their main street. Now they’ve got a gallery of terrific photography of prairie and north woods scenes, and it makes a great getaway, especially in combination with a visit to the prairie and buffalo herd of Blue Mounds State Park.
[On the North Shore] “The Coho Restaurant at Bluefin Bay diplays and sells the works of local artists, with all proceeds going directly to the artists. That’s a great example of cultural tourism.
“So, I challenge you to go home and think big, think bold, come up with new ideas and new ways of doing business, new ways of building tourism. We’ve worked hard for Minnesota tourism in the past two years, and together, we will tell the Minnesota storyÃ‰ As your Tourism Governor, I’m looking forward to working with all of you to exploring new ways of sharing our great state with visitors from around the world.”