Despite the global COVID pandemic and travel restrictions at the U.S.-Canadian border, tourism in North Dakota soared in 2021.

According to data from the North Dakota Department of Commerce Tourism and Marketing Division, visitation to the state was up 15 percent in 2021, with increases from 49 states over the previous year.

North Dakota visitors spent nearly $3 billion last year, generating $238 million in tax revenue for the state and local jurisdictions, according to the data.

However, the department notes the border closure in 2021 meant North Dakota lost 1.2 million vehicle and bus passengers entering from Canada, which translated into a loss of $132 million in spending.

“During the 2021 legislative session, $6.5 million in CARES Act funds were allocated to expand the state’s marketing, inspire visits, and raise awareness of North Dakota.” Commerce Tourism and Marketing Director Sara Otte Coleman said. “Those dollars allowed the expansion of marketing campaigns, new partnerships with media, testing of new markets, shoulder-season advertising, and an improved digital presence for North Dakota.” 

As a direct result, traffic to increased 26 percent, with a record 2.2 million visits. The website visits are seen as a top indicator of intent-to-travel.

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