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N.D. Travel Matters: the people behind the places

by Sara Otte Coleman

Downtown Oakes
Small businesses play an integral role in tourism, greeting visitors to their communities. PHOTO COURTESY N.D. TOURISM.

Did you know there are 2,900 businesses classified as tourism-related here in North Dakota? Often, when we think of the travel and tourism industry, major attractions like our venues, zoos and museums come to mind, or we think of our great outdoor spaces – lakes, parks and trails. While these attractions and events motivate trips to North Dakota, the small businesses found in every community across our state provide the amenities, hospitality and service that make trips to North Dakota memorable.

At the N.D. Department of Commerce Tourism Division, we work hard to tell the stories that sell the trips. Many of those stories are rooted in people who have made a mark on our state’s history, and those who are passionate about their job in the travel industry today.

Our N.D. Travel Matters video series is helping introduce North Dakota to the rest of the world through our greatest asset – North Dakotans themselves. The idea for the N.D. Travel Matters series came from working with the Destination Marketing Association of North Dakota. Our talented staff took the idea and created an inspiring video series, spotlighting small business owners and movers and shakers, who have turned their little corner of the travel universe into can’t-miss experiences.

North Dakotans are diverse. To reflect that in the video series, we featured an artist-owner of a pottery shop in Beach, a local dairy in Bottineau, craft brewers and a paleontologist who is more “at home” in the dirt than at home.

N.D. Travel Matters is paying off, as features have been viewed more than 100,000 times on YouTube and Facebook. This new program is another successful way for us to show the world our North Dakota – with the goal of enticing a visit, which may enlighten a potential new resident, who may move and start a career on one of our main streets.

Sara Otte Coleman is tourism director with the N.D. Department of Commerce. In 2018, she was named state tourism director of the year by the U.S. Travel Association.