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June 18, 2009     Tri-County News
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Pa e 8 IINCCS NATIONAL COALITION FOR CANCER SIJR~VOI~HIP Community Spouses If your i " employer s supporUve of Thursday, June 18, 2009 N Lilly Oncology On Canvas International Art Competition and Exhibition Amy Klobuchar U.S. Senator for Minnesota Tourism in troubled times As we head into summer, many Minnesota families are reviewing their household budgets and won- dering what kind of vacation, if any, they can take this year. Minnesota's tourism industry is wondering, too. That's why I chaired a Senate Commerce subcommittee hear- ing this past month on "tourism in troubled times," and held hearings in Minnesota focusing on the chal- lenges and opportunities facing the tourism industry in the current economy. Minnesotans understand the vital importance of tourism for our economy and way of life. From big hotels in the Twin Cit- ies to lodges on the North Shore, from B & B's in scenic small towns to fishing resorts on our 10,000 lakes, Minnesota has a large tour- ism indus/~j. It generates $11 bil- lion annually for Minnesota's econ- omy and accounts for 11 percent Paynesville Area Health Care System 200 West First Street, Paynesville, MN June 22 - 25 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. An evening reCeption with refreshments will be held on Tuesday, June 23m from 5:00- 7:00 p.m. Paynesville Relay for Life Cancer Walk Paynesville High School, Hwy 23 June 26 - 27 5:00 p.m. - 5:00 a.m. Paynesville Area Health Care System of the state's total private sector employment. Many Minnesota communities have successfully developed tour- ism's economic potential. Lanesboro is a good example. After being in decline for decades, this small toffn in southeastern Minnesota reinvented itself as a thriving tourist magnet, featuring historic buildings, charming B & B's and 60 miles of paved bike trails along the Root River and through picturesque valleys. But, in Minnesota and nation- ally, the tourism industry is feeling the impact of the severe economic downturn. Nearly 200,000 travel- related jobs disappeared in 2008. The U.S. Commerce Department forecasts the loss of an additional 250,000 jobs in 2009. Even in the midst of a trou- bled economy, we can still focus on opportunities to strengthen our tourism industry. First, there is the opportunity to make sure families know about affordable travel deals. Although many families are rethinking their vacation plans, there are still reasonably-priced options like day trips, weekend get- aways and short vacations. This could actually boost Min- nesota tourism. Instead of travel- ing to Florida or California, more Minnesotans may choose to enjoy less expensive vacations that are closer to home this year. At our Senate hearing, we heard from the CEO of Travelocity, who said that families are looking for Exhibit &free, and open to the public. Free-will donations preferred to benefit the Relay for Life. the right vacation at the right price. It's a buyers' market, and families deserve to know what travel bar- gains are available. Second, we must do more to promote the U.S. as a destination for international travel. This is especially important for Minnesota. We share a border with Canada; we have an airport with nonstop flights from Asia and Europe; we're home to the world- renowned Mayo Clinic; and, of course, we have the Mall of Amer- ica. In economic terms, interna- tional tourism counts as an "export." Instead of shipping our product to a customer overseas, the customer comes here to spend money on our goods and services. International visitors to the U.S. spend an aver- age of $4,500 per person per trip. But things aren't going as well as they should. Since 2000, America's share of the world travel market has decreased by nearly 20 percent. We must recapture this lost mar- ket share. AS a first step, I'm cospon- soring the Travel Promotion Act, which would create a public-pri- vate partnership to market the U.S. as a premier international travel destination. Finally, we must encourage both small and large companies to resume responsible, productive spending on business and conven- tion travel. The highly-publicized excesses of a few bad actors should not deter companies from mak- ing legitimate investments in travel which is essential to the success of their business. Tourism is a powerful engine for job creation and economic growth, both in Minnesota and nationally. To revive our economy, we need to get this engine back on track and moving forward at full steam. Operation Military Kids offers free camps for qualifying youth There will be two summer camping opportunities in Minne- sota made available through Oper- ation Military Kids (OMK). These camps are for young people who have been impacted by a loved one who is in the military or has been impacted by a deployment. OMK camps will provide a great opportunity to meet other young people with similar experiences and stories and tO enjoy the great outdoors while at camp. Youth who are ages 8-12, can attend a "Boots On" OMK camp. At the Boots On camp, youth are also encouraged to bring a non-military friend along, while they experience the same type of deployment preparations their loved one experiences, such as completing paperwork and doing physical fitness training. The Boots On camp will be offered Sat., July 11 through Sun., July 12 at Camp Koi- nonia near Annandale. Registra- tions will be due by noon on luly 1. OMK "Teen Camp" will be offered for youth ages 13-16 and the focus of the camp will be team building and communication s k~lls, which will be developed through participation in challenge activi- ties such as a ropes course. Teen Camp will be offered on Sun., July 19 through Tues., July 21 at Iron- wood Springs Ranch near Stewart- ville. Registrations will be due by noon on July 10. Campers will enjoy traditional activities such as campfires, crafts, canoeing and cabin-living. There will be no registration fee for partic- ipants to attend these'camps. Registration information is avail- able by going to . Click on State Information, then MN and you will find it under the News/Events sec- tion. Transportation to and from camp will be available from certain locations. If you have any ques- tions about Teen Camp, contact: Michele Koening, OMK Camping Director, or (507) 337-2811. Camp space is lim- ited, so please register early. Memo- ries created at summer camps last a life time!