Visit Cook County was created through collaboration of the existing Cook County, Minnesota’s community tourism associations, the newly created Cook County Events & Visitors Bureau as well as the voluntary member of the Grand Portage Band of Chippewa Ojibwe. The organizations came together with the economic reality that ‘together we all do better’ – there is more buying power and reach with combined revenues.
The tourism associations that make up Visit Cook County are: Gunflint Trail Association (GTA), Lutsen-Tofte-Schroeder Tourism Association (LTTA) and Grand Marais Area Tourism Association (GMATA). These three associations have board of directors and are financed by the collection of a 3% lodging tax in their communities.
This 3% lodging tax has defined statutory limitations on how it can be spent, simply put: to be spent on destination marketing. These limits prevented funding for visitor experiences and lures such as festival and event hosting. To address this need, the associations agreed to an additional 1% to the lodging tax collection in 2007-08 to create the Cook County Events and Visitors Bureau, (CCEVB). This tax is ‘voluntary’ for non-lodging businesses, they are allowed to charge a 1% minimum to 3% maximum tax. An example of a voluntary collection is Lutsen Mountains Alpine operations. They collect a 3% tax on lift tickets, equipment rentals, entertainment, restaurant food & beverage. This corporation also participates in the lodging tax collection at their Eagle Ridge Resort.
All collected taxes are paid to the County Auditor who in turn handles the administration and distribution of revenue. The 1% CCEVB funds are allocated to assist existing community sponsored events, Visit Cook County events as well as enhancements to visitor experiences such as music, nature programs, access to information on an event calendar that is printed, online and on a mobile app.
Who decides how these monies are spent or allocated?
All of the tourism associations continue with full board of directors and meetings. Each of these associations has representation on the Visit Cook County board of directors. Once a year during the annual budget process, each association allocates the way they want their 1% funds spent.
The number of Visit Cook County board representatives correspond to the size of their communities’ tax collection.
Meet the Visit Cook County team
Linda Jurek, Executive Director | linda @ visitcookcounty.com
Molly O’Neill, Administrative Manager | molly @ visitcookcounty.com
Maggie Barnard, Communications Manager | maggie @ visitcookcounty.com
Kjersti Vick, Marketing Manager | kjersti @ visitcookcounty.com
Katie Krantz, Events Resource Manager | katie @ visitcookcounty.com
(note a space in email address between name @ visitcookcounty.com — this is to avoid autobot spammers)
Information Center Staff
Anna Klobuchar, Info Center Coordinator | anna @ visitcookcounty.com
Carolyn Higgins, Judy Boots, Dan Helmerson — Grand Marais Information Center
Bill Wehesler — Tofte Information Center
Giant Voices – Marketing Agency
LINPR – Public Relations