MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — At long last, visitors are once again coming to the Twin Cities and staying the night.
At the start of the pandemic, hotel occupancy dipped below 5% in Minneapolis. It’s now up to 30%.READ MORE: Twin Cities DoorDash Driver Warns Of Scam That Lost Him Hundreds Of Dollars
By most accounts, this is the ideal time of year to visit Minneapolis. But for a year and a half, those visits have been rare and hotels eerily quiet.
Lisa Schetinski works in sales at the Canopy by Hilton hotel in the Mill District of Minneapolis.
“I don’t think anything could have prepared all of us for this type of situation and how it impacts our industry so significantly,” she said.
Schetinski helps book for the art-filled boutique property with 183 rooms, and for the past year, few guests.
“I’ll try not to get emotional about it but we lost many team members where we just couldn’t support keeping everybody,” Schetinski said. “So I think the many furloughs and things really impacted our industry.”
But at long last, with the return of weddings and Twins crowds, the Minneapolis tourism industry is gaining ground.READ MORE: Fourth Stimulus Check: Will There Be Additional Relief Payments?
“The weekend occupancies have been growing. We even had a sellout weekend, which was really exciting, and I think that was so promising and just really invigorating for the whole team, to be back doing what we do,” Schetinski said.
As for the huge Convention Center gatherings that bring in tens of thousands…
“We would typically do 33 of those a year,” Mett Minneapolis tourism team president Melvin Tenant said. “This year we will have about 10 since we are in the recovery stage. But 2022 we should actually exceed that 33 number with the way things are looking for us.”
So local industry experts project 2021 will be a slow climb, but in 2022, more and more travelers will finally reach their destination.
Another sign of recovery for the Canopy: they are going to have two larger corporate events in August. And the Convention Center will have its first large scale event, a toy convention.
The biggest challenge now for hotels is to re-hire enough staff to keep up with growing demand.MORE NEWS: Minnesota Adopts Clean Car Standards In Push For More Electric Car Availability; Gov. Walz Calls It 'A Win Across The Board'
Travel tip: If you’re thinking of doing a staycation, hotel rates in general are still at lower rates.