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Owatonna, Northfield and Faribault Awarded at Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference

ST. PAUL, Minn. (Feb. 1, 2017) —During the 2017 Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference, held at the InterContinental Saint Paul Riverfront hotel this week, several individuals, organizations and tourism businesses were recognized at the annual Excellence in Tourism Awards banquet for their contributions to the state's $14.4 billion travel industry.

Northfield, Faribault and Owatonna tourism leaders were presented with a Marketing Award of Excellence for their work on a multi-community branding effort called the Minne-Roadtrip which promotes all three communities.

Lisa Peterson, director of tourism from the Northfield Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism, Nort Johnson, community marketing director from the Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce, and Katie Godfrey, director of conventions and tourism from the Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism were presented with the award by John Edman, director of Explore Minnesota Tourism.

“We went about the work of creating a brand each community could subscribe to and leverage, while also conveying a compelling call to action for the consumer,” stated Johnson.  “Our 3 destinations combined absolutely deliver on the implied brand promise of a “Minne-Roadtrip” which makes the marketing enjoyable and productive.  Being recognized for the good work of the partnership by the State Tourism Department is certainly an honor.”


The Minne-Roadtrip brand was started in January 2016. The group has attended tradeshows together in Des Moines and Duluth while promoting each community’s attractions, dining, events, and shopping opportunities. They primarily target the Metro region and northern Iowa in their marketing strategies. They have also developed a website ( and a Minne-Roadtrip Facebook page with travel ideas. “We are honored to receive this prestigious award from the State of Minnesota,” said Godfrey.  “It is amazing how far we have been able to take this brand in the past year.”

“We are stronger when we work together as a team. There are many opportunities that our budgets alone would not have been able to support, but under the Minne-Roadtrip banner we have been able to market each of our communities in front of new audiences,” said Peterson.

Cynthia Messer, director of the University Of Minnesota Tourism Center, stated, “The Minne-Roadtrip is an excellent example of a successful regional marketing campaign. Working collaboratively Northfield, Faribault and Owatonna have found a creative new way to draw visitors to their communities and extend the individual marketing efforts of each community.”


The annual tourism conference attracted more than 350 attendees from around the state, including representatives of convention and visitors bureaus and other tourism promotion organizations; hotels, resorts and campgrounds; and a variety of attractions, such as museums, parks, zoos, malls and historic sites. Conference highlights included: a state tourism report from Explore Minnesota Director/CEO John Edman; remarks on the importance of tourism from Lt. Gov. Tina Smith; insights from the National Association of Sports Commission (NASC) about the economic impact of events; and more.

As the state's tourism promotion office, Explore Minnesota pursues an entrepreneurial approach, leveraging the state's tourism investment with increased involvement by the private sector. A council of representatives from the state's tourism industry strongly connects Explore Minnesota with tourism businesses and organizations. Tourism is a $14.4 billion industry in Minnesota, and a key sector of the state's economy. The leisure and hospitality industry—a major provider of tourism services—employs nearly 260,000 workers, representing 11 percent of Minnesota's private sector employment. Leisure and hospitality also generates 17 percent of the state's sales tax revenues. Minnesota welcomes nearly 70 million domestic and international travelers annually.

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