Visitors generate over $220 Million of economic activity in Cook County annually
In celebration of the kickoff to summer, Visit Cook County is hosting an Open House on May 23

Grand Marais, Minn. – May 14, 2024 –  A new study by the University of Minnesota Extension Department of Community Development reveals the significant economic impact of visitors to Cook County, Minnesota. 


Annually, over 1.2 million visitors are drawn to the area by its natural beauty, vibrant culture, dynamic community, and many attractions including the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Lake Superior coastline, four state parks, a thriving art and craft community, and to explore the vast amount of public lands within the Superior National Forest. 


“The findings of this study underscore the vital role that tourism plays in driving economic growth and prosperity in Cook County. From supporting local businesses to creating jobs and generating tax revenue, tourism enriches our community in multifaceted ways,” said Linda Jurek, Executive Director of Visit Cook County. 


The study found that visitor spending in 2022 amounted to a staggering $220 million, impacting the economy in three ways:

  • Direct Impact: This is the initial visitor spending, estimated at $164.7 million in 2022. Lodging, restaurants/bars, and transportation were the top spending categories.
  • Indirect Impact: Businesses that support the tourism industry, but don't directly serve visitors, benefit as well. This "ripple effect" contributed an estimated $32.1 million in 2022.
  • Induced Impact: Visitor spending leads to increased wages for workers, which in turn fuels spending throughout the county. This "induced effect" added an estimated $22.7 million in 2022.


Among the $220 million of economic activity generated by visitors, $55 million was attributed to businesses that do not directly serve visitors. The industries beyond direct service that benefited the most from visitors include real estate, government enterprises (including state, local, and tribal operations), and utilities.


“For example, visitors may not hire a local accountant,” continues Jurek, “but that accountant might have a client whose business caters to visitors. This creates a ripple effect throughout the economy supporting local businesses directly and indirectly.”


In celebration of National Travel & Tourism Week and the release of the report, Visit Cook County will host an Open House on Thursday, May 23, 2024, from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm. This event is an opportunity for the community to meet the Visit Cook County team and learn more about the region's tourism industry.

Visit Cook County, Minnesota 
Visit Cook County encompasses the northeastern Minnesota communities of Lutsen, Tofte, Schroeder, Grand Marais, the Gunflint Trail and Grand Portage, commonly referred to as “the Arrowhead” and the “North Shore of Lake Superior.”  Grand Marais, Minn., has earned several national accolades — most recently, it was named America's Best Small Lake Town by Travel & Leisure Magazine, USA Today’s Best Midwestern Small Town, and Outside Magazine’s The 16 Best Places to Live in the U.S. 2016. Rekindle your sense of adventure by exploring the Superior National Forest or paddling through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Discover what makes the communities of Cook County, Minn. “Naturally Unforgettable.” Connect on social media using #donorthmn, Twitter @CookCoVisitorsFacebook, or Instagram @donorthmn. Learn more at


For Interview Requests or Questions:

Linda Jurek - Executive Director

Linda Jurek Executive Director

Kjersti Vick - Marketing & Public Relations Director

Kjersti Vick Marketing & Public Relations Director