North Dakota Legendary | VideoJessica Roose | 4/24/2012
"So we tried to do that and use it kind of as an umbrella marketing campaign that showcases the whole state, the variety of rich history, culture and fun things to see and do," said Sara Otte Coleman, the state`s Tourism Division Director.
A strategy that`s been successful since 2002, the State Tourism Division has grown gradually and is now the third largest industry in the state. Nina Sneider from Jamestown said she has noticed the growth in that area, where they use traffic counters at several of their attractions.
"When I came, I think the numbers coming through the gate there has tripled, and of course, the largest draw are the white buffalo. People will come literally from around the world to see them. And of course the world`s largest buffalo."
Buffalo isn`t the only thing that brings visitors into the state. Other popular attractions include Theodore Roosevelt National Park near Medora as well as hunting and fishing venues across the state.
"We can compete nationally in certain niches like birding for example. We`ve got more wildlife refuges than any other state in the union and people will travel to our rural areas and small towns to get their birds checked off their life lists," Otte Coleman said.
Tribal areas around the state have seen similar growth.
"Now that the flood has taken it`s toll on the northern tier, Minot is back and in operation with the state fair and the Høstfest. We`re part of that, too. But tourism throughout Indian country is expanding," said Les Thomas, Chairman of the Turtle Mountain Heritage Center.
Otte Coleman said 1,300 hotel rooms have opened in the last year. Another 2,300 are being built to accommodate even more visitors.