The Tourism Center Fund supports our work helping communities use research, education, and collaboration to guide local decision-making, drive marketing strategies, inform policy and strengthen local economies through tourism.
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Driven by what’s important to Minnesota tourism
Minnesota’s $15 billion tourism industry relies on research and education from the University of Minnesota Tourism Center. Our research and education stays relevant because we stay in touch with the industry and communities.
Our research examines current issues and emerging trends that affect the tourism industry.
- Visitor profiles give communities and local businesses information about their visitors.
- Tourism policy and sustainable tourism
- Other research projects cover topics such as workforce issues, biking and what draws visitors to Minnesota. Explore our research reports to learn more.
When visitors come to Minnesota, they expect excellent customer service, successful festivals and events, and great experiences. More than 100,000 participants have benefited from our three core program areas:
- Community tourism development
- Creating positive customer service experiences
- Festival and event management
- NEW! Growing tourism leadership - a webinar course for DMOs
Our research-based educational programs can help your community create and sustain local tourism experiences.
Our partnerships extend our work to all 87 counties in Minnesota and beyond. Our affiliates bring additional expertise in areas that impact the tourism industry.
Our 22-member advisory committee represents the breadth of the tourism industry across the state. They keep us in tune with emerging trends or concerns.
We have been strengthening Minnesota tourism for more than 30 years. Learn more about how we formed and important dates in our history.
In 1987, the University of Minnesota Tourism Center was created. That same year, Curtis L. Carlson made an initial gift to establish the Carlson Travel, Tourism and Hospitality Chair. This gift inspired additional gifts from over 130 tourism industry supporters.
Over the years, projects supported with Carlson Chair funds have made an impact in every Minnesota county and tourism sector. As a result of our research and educational efforts, social, political and cultural capital has increased across Minnesota.
- 2017 — Licensed At Your Service program to University of Missouri Extension
- 2015 — Translated and culturally adapted At Your Service program for use in Morocco
- 2013 — Launched statewide Tourism Assessment Program collaboration with the Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships
- 2010 — Won Emmy® for Minnesota Tourism: Ideas at Play
- 2007 — Facilitated Three Rivers Wine Trail development
- 2006 — Hosted first statewide sustainable tourism conference
- 2004 — Sponsored first annual "Tourism Works for U" research showcase to celebrate National Tourism Week
- 2003 — Assisted with developing Minnesota American Indian Tourism Association
- 2001 — Conducted visitor profiles in Brainerd, Detroit Lakes, Ely, Pipestone, and Shakopee
- 1999 — Conducted visitor profiles of five southern Minnesota communities along I-90 corridor
- 1996 — Developed statewide research agenda
- 1995 — Launched the At Your Service program
- 1992 — Created Festival and Event Management program
- 1991 — Introduced National Rural Tourism Development program