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Published April 17, 2013, 06:53 PM

North Dakota takes to social media to drive up tourism

According to several outlets North Dakota is the least visited state in the nation, but the state's tourism industry is hoping to change that.

According to several outlets North Dakota is the least visited state in the nation, but the state's tourism industry is hoping to change that.

More than 200 people gathered for the North Dakota Travel Industry Conference at the Alerus Center today to discuss how to bring in more visitors. Despite currently being at the bottom, industry leaders say the future looks bright for North Dakota tourism thanks to a booming economy and social media.

The North Dakota tourism industry is proving that social media isn't just for keeping up with friends and family.

Julie Rygg, Grand Forks Convention and Visitor's Bureau: "We can use social media for our advantage. If we're not on top of our game, if we're not providing that service, it's going to come back to hurt us."

Leaders say they're using technology to attract a larger audience than ever to the state.

Les Thomas, Turtle Mountain Museum Assosiatrion: "North Dakota tourism is marketed worldwide now."

Experts say that marketing is vital because it's always been a challenge to spread the word about what North Dakota has to offer visitors.

Rygg: "It's not that people have bad thoughts, it's sometimes getting people to have thoughts about our community and our state. Getting the word out there. Obviously because of the economy of North Dakota we've been out there on a national scale more now."

As always, more tourists means more revenue for the state.

Rygg: "The tourists bring a lot of money into our community. They're not just staying in the hotels, but they're shopping, they're eating in our restaurants, they're golfing on our golf courses."

It's not just social media bringing in more tourists than ever. There's also more sporting events and conferences coming to the state. In addition, a $30 million casino near Turtle Mountain is set to open in June.

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