In 2018, a record 34.5 million people visited the Twin Cities, according to Meet Minneapolis, the local convention and visitors association.
The figure marked a 3.7 percent increase over the number of visitors in the prior year.
Meet Minneapolis tapped McLean, Va.-based consulting firm DK Shifflet to conduct the research. The firm estimates that visitors to the Twin Cities added about $8 billion to the local economy in 2018.
Melvin Tennant, president and CEO of Meet Minneapolis, attributes the uptick in visitors to a series of major events last year, including Super Bowl LII.
“We had a convergence of events of work … that all came together in 2018,” he says. “Efforts to secure events can take multiple years.”
For instance, plans for last year’s Super Bowl were originally secured in 2014, Tennant notes. Other events that drew large numbers of visitors included the American Legion’s 100th National Convention, along with the Society of Women Engineers’ conference in October.
It’s too soon to tell if 2019 will be a record-breaking year, but Tennant notes that the Twin Cities will host several more big-name events this year, including the X Games in August.
In addition, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod Youth Gathering next month is expected to bring in more than 20,000 visitors, according to Meet Minneapolis estimates.
Nearly 36,000 people work in the tourism and hospitality industry in Minneapolis, Mayor Jacob Frey said in a statement.
"These serious increases in visitors and visitor spending in the Minneapolis region means we’re moving in the right direction for achieving one of our goals: showing the rest of the world that Minneapolis is a world-class destination,” Frey said.