Call of the wilderness in a down economy?

Tourism is a big deal to Minnesota’s economy and summer is an especially crucial time. So we were intrigued by a recent note from Steve Piragis, an outfitter in Ely on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and someone who keeps us posted regularly on the economy of northern Minnesota.

Steve, part of our Public Insight Network, told us:

In a poor economy Ely and the Boundary Waters Wilderness seem to be popular vacation choices. Reservations for canoe trips and spending on wilderness related gear is up this year once again.

Is it because the canoe trip is a relatively inexpensive vacation choice or is it the back to nature experience that people crave in troubled times? For whatever reason it appears that the northwoods will have a very good summer economy once again reflecting what has happened in other recessions.

That may be a good sign for Minnesota, especially since tourism and travel in Minnesota sustains nearly 250,000 jobs and last summer the season was so-so at best.

I’d be interested in hearing from others in Minnesota’s tourism and travel business if they’re seeing seeing the same thing as Steve.

Below are some recent responses from Minnesotans telling us what they’re spending or not spending on these days. You can help by telling us your own leisure spending plans this summer.

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