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North Dakota Hosted 24 Million Visitors in 2013

Posted: Jan 09 2015
BISMARCK, N.D. – Governor Jack Dalrymple and North Dakota Tourism Division Director Sara Otte Coleman today announced the state’s visitor numbers from 2013. A total of 24 million people visited North Dakota in 2013, spending $3.6 billion in-state in the process. The information was gathered by IHS as part of the Tourism Satellite Account (TSA), which is the international standard for measuring the contribution of tourism to an economy.

“North Dakota is truly a legendary place with a rich history, beautiful scenery and a variety of things to experience,” Dalrymple said. “We are pleased to have welcomed 24 million visitors to our state in 2013, and look forward to bringing more people here each year. North Dakota is increasingly becoming a destination state and we welcome the opportunity to show off all we have to offer.”

Visitation saw a 22 percent increase between 2011 and 2013, with tourism-related expenditures increasing 19 percent over the same time period. In fact, tourism to North Dakota grew so much over the last decade that domestic leisure travel alone in 2013 was equal to the state’s total visitation numbers in 2008. This includes day-trips, overnight vacations and those visiting friends and relatives. In fact, the North Dakota State Fair, State Parks and the Fargodome all boasted record attendance in 2013.

“While the major attention surrounding North Dakota’s economy is focused on energy and agriculture, tourism is an extremely valuable industry to our state’s bottom line,” Otte Coleman said. “The tourism division is pleased to continue elevating North Dakota in minds of travelers and to bring in additional tax revenue that supports industry growth.”

The $3.6 billion in tourism expenditures from 2013 resulted in $307 million in state and local government taxes paid by visitors. That is the equivalent to a resident tax savings of $1,011 per household or the equivalent of paying for the education of roughly 24,000 public school students.

The majority of expenditures, 55 percent, came from visitors from other U.S. states. International travelers made up 10 percent of the total, and in-state residents traveling to other parts of North Dakota accounted for 14 percent of spending.

All 53 of North Dakota’s counties also took in tourism revenue. The county with the highest revenue was Cass County at $537.36 million. Oliver County had the lowest at $2.08 million.

The majority of visitor expenditures were on food at just over $1 billion. That was followed by shopping at $805 million and accommodations at $544 million. 

North Dakota Tourism commissions the study on TSA data every other year, which counts employment, sales and Gross Domestic Product, and allows (implicitly) for measurement of wages and taxes.

IHS is a leading business information services company based in Colorado, and provides North Dakota’s TSA information. IHS Travel and Tourism provides forecasting, research and economic impact analysis for a variety of private organizations, national tourism boards, as well as state and local tourism entities.

“The U.S. tourism industry has rebounded nicely since the Great Recession, but during that same time period, North Dakota tourism has grown by nearly 50 percent,” Shane Norton, director of economic impact analysis for IHS, said. “This explosive growth has been driven by a significant increase in visitation as well as per visitor spending, contributing to a significant rise in tourism related construction and investment.”

View North Dakota’s 2013 TSA report at

Today North Dakota Tourism also unveiled the 2015 Travel Guide, State Map, and Hunting and Fishing Guide. Each of these resources helps visitors and potential visitors to plan their Legendary experiences, whether they be outdoors, urban, cultural, historical or otherwise. Both guides and the map are available at