Weather Forecast


Park Rapids looking to grow tourism

A group walks along the headwaters of the Mississippi River, which is a major tourism draw. (Enterprise photo)

Although you might already see a clear difference between Park Rapids’ population during the summer months as opposed to the long winters, the Park Rapids Chamber of Commerce hopes to make that difference even more visible this year.

This spring, the Explore Minnesota Tourism organization unveiled a new marketing campaign in the hopes of ultimately increasing tourism throughout Minnesota.

Themed “Only in Minnesota,” the campaign will be comprehensive and far-reaching over numerous media platforms, with ads costing more than $3.7 million over the next three months alone.

“Every dollar we invest in promoting Minnesota tourism brings another $84 of consumer spending into our state’s economy,” said Governor Mark Dayton in a press release regarding the recent strategy implementation.

“That is why I worked with the Legislature last year to increase Explore Minnesota Tourism’s budget by over 65 percent.”

Hoping to increase their own tourism in partnership with the program, the Park Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce is hoping to showcase their own unique offerings within the community.

“Hospitality and lodging, dining and specialty retail shops are all heavily tourist dependent. With the increase in funding to Explore Minnesota’s budget, they have expanded their regional reach as well as the different media platforms that they’re advertising on,” said Nicole Lalum, executive director for Park Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce.

A new Twitter hashtag, #OnlyInMN, will be a main launching point for the largely viral campaign.

“We’re using that in our social media now and we’re encouraging others to use it as well. We now have the ability to expand in markets we’ve never been in. We don’t have a product problem here in Minnesota. When people come here, they like it. They like what they see in the metro and rural areas. What we have is an awareness problem. Using a viral campaign like this, I think we will grow the awareness of Minnesota further,” Lalum said.

Although Park Rapids historically hasn’t necessarily been starved for tourism, the recent economic recession didn’t help, and there is always room for improvement.

“Tourism suffered a bit with the recession just like everything else did. The general feeling on the street is that this is going to be a good year, maybe even better than pre-recession. It’s very exciting,” Lalum said.

“We have tourism marketing committee that oversees a budget for the organization for the year. This year we are focusing on some niche markets such as ATV riders, semi and early retired people, and motorcyclists. We’re also working on year-round tourism, so not so much mid-July and August, but more working on opening fishing to mid-June and then mid-August through October,” Lalum said.

No matter the weather, Lalum sees the attractions of the area as plentiful and wide ranging.

“This is the only place in the world where you can tip-toe across the headwaters of the Mississippi River. You can’t do that anywhere else. Everyone around here already knows what our tourism package includes: it’s family friendly, resorts, nature, serenity – it’s all of that kind of unplugged, nostalgic, bonfire and s’mores feeling. A lot of it is very similar to most of Minnesota. However, there are things here like Dorset and Main Street that you can’t do anywhere else,” Lalum said.

“It’s that uniqueness and personality that shines through that isn’t like anywhere else. Hubbard County has a great tourism product and growing that product will grow the economy across the scale.”

Nick Longworth
A graduate from St. Cloud State University, Nick photographs and writes a variety of stories for nearly every section of The Park Rapids Enterprise. His duties also include section layouts and online content submission.
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