As we navigate through these challenging times, it’s inspiring to connect with our tourism providers across the state who, despite disappearing visitors and revenue, have continued to tell their stories and connect with their communities and potential visitors.
Six weeks ago, the tourism and marketing teams at the Department of Commerce spent the early days of the pandemic transitioning to a “new normal,” by working from home using various teleconferencing tools. We adjusted quickly and shifted our focus from selling North Dakota to a traveling audience to guiding North Dakotans to services and programs that can help them survive the financial impact of COVID-19 shutdowns.
Much of our external marketing and communications efforts have transitioned to in-state and helping community leaders prepare for our recovery. We have reprogrammed our marketing campaigns to align with the current environment and the fastest path to once again invite and host visitors. Our sales team continues working with customers, tour operators, travel media, influencers and representatives to improve awareness.
We celebrated National Tourism Week May 3-9 with the announcement of the Governor’s Travel and Tourism Awards, hosting a live pitch competition for North Dakota filmmakers and launching the 2020 Governor’s Photo Contest.
This is the perfect time to dream, discover new options and plan trips across our great state for when it is safe to travel. Our “Meet my ND” video series, new virtual tours and inspiring outdoor recreation offerings at NDtourism.com are great places to start. Daily puzzles featuring iconic North Dakota images and virtual tours will help you map out your North Dakota road trip.
Our new 2020 campaign encourages visitors to “follow their curiosity, not the crowds.” It couldn’t be more relevant to travelers who will travel again but are likely to make their travel choices very carefully with safety as a key consideration.
Tourism is positioned well to rebound quickly! Given North Dakota’s assets in abundant natural resources, accessible outdoors, advantages in our hospitality and lack of crowds, our industry has the potential to rebound faster than other destinations.
There will be vacations, long weekends, festivals, activities, reunions and conferences again. Until then, we will work to support the more than 2,900 businesses and 42,000 workers who make up this great industry in North Dakota, inspiring North Dakotans to do what they have always done – support their neighbors.
When it is safe to travel, follow your curiosity in your own state and meet the many faces that make up the travel and tourism industry across North Dakota.
Be safe, be supportive, be adventurous and Be Legendary! And remember, we are all #InThisTogetherND.
Sara Otte Coleman is director of tourism and marketing for the North Dakota Department of Commerce.