By Sara Otte Coleman, director of tourism and marketing, North Dakota Department of Commerce

Gov. Doug Burgum has proclaimed May 2-8 North Dakota Travel and Tourism Week, recognizing the industry’s role in supporting our communities and businesses, restoring the economy and rebuilding our workforce.

Optimism is high that through creative planning and hard work across the industry, North Dakota is well positioned to welcome a public eager for travel and adventure in 2021.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans are ready to travel and looking for inspiration as they are dreaming, planning and booking travel at increasingly higher rates. North Dakota Tourism’s website, NDtourism.com, experienced a 51% increase in visitation last year and is up another 75% thus far in 2021. Visitation from all 50 states indicates travelers are looking at us as a safe, affordable and exciting destination in which to refresh, reconnect and refocus. Our travel motivators are exactly what people are looking for: scenic beauty, wide-open spaces, national and state parks and historic sites.

Road trips will be even more popular in 2021 and our marketing and promotional efforts, including our new Road Trip Guide, showcase fun routes and itineraries across the state. We will guide travelers to “follow their curiosity, not the crowds,” to our unique attractions, entertaining events, eclectic shopping and diverse dining options. To help make planning easy, we have also updated several multi-day road trips which can be found at https://belegendary.link/RoadTrips.

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Theodore Roosevelt National Park offers visitors wildlife viewing, scenery and outdoor recreation without the crowds which is exactly what consumers are now seeking.

The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted travel and tourism with more than $1.2 billion in lost visitor spending and the closure of the Canadian border that has resulted in the loss of 500,000 personal vehicle trips. But North Dakota is prepared to put the effects of COVID-19 in the rearview mirror and point visitors toward a bright future.

Now is the time to get out and rediscover your North Dakota! Be inspired, be adventurous, be legendary.