More than you expect: Tourists say F-M area lives up to its
Tourism in Fargo-Moorhead has grown steadily throughout the 1990s, thanks in part to some annual events that have found a happy home here. One is the USA Junior and Cadet Wrestling Tournament. Another is the Pyrotechnics Guild, which has held its...
Tourism in Fargo-Moorhead has grown steadily throughout the 1990s, thanks in part to some annual events that have found a happy home here.
One is the USA Junior and Cadet Wrestling Tournament. Another is the Pyrotechnics Guild, which has held its national convention here several times in recent years.
The fireworks guild brings 2,000 people to the city each summer, said Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Cole Carley.
The wrestling tournament was first held here in 1996, when plans to hold it in Atlanta were scuttled because of the Olympics.
To the surprise of some spectators and organizers, Fargo turned out to be a great venue. The tournament has been held here every summer since, bringing about 6,000 wrestlers and fans to town annually.
Lodging tax receipts show the steady growth in tourism. A 2 percent lodging tax is added to each hotel bill in Fargo-Moorhead to finance Convention and Visitors Bureau promotions. In addition, the tax serves as a barometer of hotel bookings.
Tax collections grew from roughly $490,000 in 1989-90 to about $700,000 today.
Along with the growth in visitation comes growth in the number of hotel rooms in the community.
Today, there are 3,462 hotel rooms in the metro area. Five years ago, the metro area had 3,144.
Pete Isais, co-director of the USA Junior and Cadet Wrestling National Tournament, sings the praises of Fargo as a welcoming community.
In a letter to the Convention and Visitors Bureau, he said the city has lived up to its motto of "More Than You Expect" for the people who attend the tournament each summer. He said visitors are impressed with the array of restaurants and accommodations available.
Isais, formerly an assistant wrestling coach for North Dakota State University, was key in attracting the tourney to Fargo. At first, the organization didn't know if the tourney would work in a city this size. Now, the wrestlers and the governing organization want to keep coming back.
Carley said the CVB's slogan of "More Than You Expect" is true and it's the reason visitors make return trips to Fargo-Moorhead.
"They may not expect us to have teriffic jet service, hotels, shopping and national stores and great restaurants -- they find more than they expect," Carley said.
"Any group of visitors coming into a community wants to know they're a big deal. That's where our nice people -- courteous customer service -- come into play. We talk about friendly, helpful people. We talk about great value. They'll spend far more for a hotel in others cities," he said, and that hotel room may not be as nice or clean elsewhere.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Deneen Gilmour at email@example.com or (701) 241-5525