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Guest Editorial: May 2021

Refresh, reconnect and refocus with road trips

by Sara Otte Coleman


The 2021 travel season kicks off with Gov. Doug Burgum proclaiming May 2-8 “North Dakota Travel and Tourism Week,” recognizing the industry’s role in supporting our communities and businesses, restoring the economy and rebuilding our workforce.

North Dakota’s travel and tourism industry has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than $1.2 billion lost in visitor spending, and the closure of the Canadian border, resulting in the loss of 500,000 personal vehicle trips. But through creative planning and hard work across the industry, North Dakota is well-positioned to welcome a public eager for travel and adventure in 2021.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans are ready to travel and looking for inspiration, as they are dreaming, planning and booking travel at increasingly higher rates. North Dakota Tourism’s website, www.NDtourism.com, experienced a 51% increase in website visitation year-over-year in 2020 from all 50 states, indicating travelers are looking at us as a safe, affordable and exciting destination to refresh, reconnect and refocus.

North Dakota has exactly what travelers are seeking, with top motivators being scenic beauty, wide-open spaces, national and state parks and historic sites.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park offers visitors wildlife viewing, scenery and outdoor recreation. National park visitation is up 8% nationwide since May of last year, and visitation to North Dakota’s state parks increased 12%.

Road trips will continue to be popular in 2021. Our marketing and promotional efforts, including our new Road Trip Guide (that will arrive in the mail with June's issue of North Dakota Living), will showcase fun routes and itineraries across the state. Travelers can “follow their curiosity, not the crowds,” and we will help guide them to our unique attractions, entertaining events, eclectic shopping and diverse dining options. With road trips on everyone’s mind, North Dakota Living will feature one of our multi-day road trips each month along various routes in the state. Check out the first road trip route along Interstate 94 on page 20.

Now is the time to get out and rediscover your North Dakota! Be Inspired, Be Adventurous, Be Legendary.

Sara Otte Coleman is tourism director with the N.D. Department of Commerce.