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A mix of visitors: U of M study continues to track tourism data in Bemidji

Fans attend the Dragon Boat Festival in downtown Bemidji. (Pioneer file photo)

BEMIDJI—Data from an updated tourism study suggests visitation to Bemidji remains fairly consistent through the winter, spring and summer months.

Over the past year, the University of Minnesota Tourism Center conducted a visitor profile project with results broken into four sections by season. The study was ordered by Visit Bemidji and was started on Dec. 1, 2017.

The winter, spring and summer portions of the study have been completed and data compiled from fall is expected for release in early February.

The largest age bracket for visitors to Bemidji are Generation X, ages 35-53, and Baby Boomers, ages 54-72.

In winter and spring, Gen Xers led the visiting, while in the summer months, it's the Baby Boomers out in front.

What remains the same, though, is the average income of visitors to Bemidji. For all three seasons, the study found the household income of visitors to be between $50,000 and $75,000.

"In terms of trends, it continues to be the case that Bemidji's visitors tend to be in good financial condition," U of M Tourism Specialist Daniel Erkkila said. "People coming into the Bemidji area have pretty good incomes. They're also spending a little less time, but that's something we've been seeing in other destinations.

"The commonplace, week-long vacation might not be as popular as it used to be."

In all three months, the study found the average stay to be 2.5 nights.

What wasn't as consistent, though, was how much was spent by visitors. In the winter months, the study found average daily spending by tourists to be at $164.20. In spring, the amount was at $114.20 and then the average rises to $151 in the summer.

Some differences were also found as to why people were coming to Bemidji. In winter, the study found most people came to Bemidji for sporting events, while in the spring and summer, most were visiting family and/or friends.

As for where they're coming from, the study found most visitors have Minnesota residences. The state providing the second most visitors is North Dakota.

And while they are here, the primary trip activity was dining out. The favorite activity, meanwhile, was shopping in winter and spring, while it went outdoors to visiting the local state parks in the summer months.

"We're expecting the final report to be done in late-February and it will put all four seasons together," Erkkila said. "When we pull all of the research together, we'll be able to take a much deeper dive into what it all means."

Matthew Liedke

Matthew Liedke is the city, county and state government reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer. He also covers business, politics and financial news.

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