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North Dakota’s new tourism marketing campaign is promoting what the sparsely populated state has plenty of: elbow room.

Among the least-visited states in the nation, North Dakota’s tourism agency on Tuesday unveiled a $2.9 million campaign touting the state’s wide-open spaces, and outdoor recreational opportunities.

Tourism Division Director Sara Otte Coleman said the state’s slogan is now, “Don’t follow the crowds — follow your curiosity.”

“What that means is, you won’t be bumper-to-bumper at a national park,” Otte Coleman said.

Tourism officials confirmed last week that the agency has renewed its contract with Hollywood actor Josh Duhamel to promote tourism in his home state.

The star of several “Transformers” movies will be paid $175,000 to be the face of North Dakota’s tourism campaign for the next two years, taking his total haul for the tourism contract to more than $1 million.

Duhamel’s contract with the state began in 2013, and the extension expires Dec. 31, 2021.

Tourist numbers for last year have not been tallied but Coleman said 22.6 million people visited North Dakota in 2018, up 4% over the prior year. Visitors spent about $3 billion in 2018, which generated about $300 million in state and local taxes, she said.

Duhamel, who is from Minot, has been a great ambassador for the state, Otte Coleman said.

“He really has paid off for us,” she said. “You have to differentiate yourself in marketing. He has helped us appeal to a broader audience.”

North Dakota’s tourism division is part of the state Department of Commerce. The agency has a two-year budget of about $11 million and has 15 employees.

This article was written by James MacPherson from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Photo Credit: A vista in western North Dakota. Heather / Flickr