Neu-Ulm – Stakeholders in the tourism industry in Neu-Ulm gathered on Wednesday at Turner Hall to exchange information and plan for the next season of tourism visits to the community.
The event was organized by the New Ulm District Chamber of Commerce. Sarah Warmka, chair of the chamber, said all tourism partners were invited to the event to get involved and excited about the season.
One of the goals was to create cross-promotion between different companies and organizations. For example, a local bed and breakfast can tell guests about community events or other attractions in the area, Warmka said.
Each tourism partner was able to run a quick promotion during the luncheon to give an update on the activities during this tourism season.
The head of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, Denise Fischer, said the aim of the CVB was to increase travel to Neu-Ulm with an emphasis on overnight stays. Overnight stays bring in additional funding through housing tax.
Fisher said most of the marketing takes place within 60 miles of Neu-Ulm to entice visitors to stay in town. Fischer said 35,000 copies of the New Ulm guide have been published. Guides are offered throughout Minnesota Visitor Centers and mailed to order.
“We get a lot of requests,” Fisher said.
CVB and Chamber are currently working on a new website designed for tourists with a separate tab for accommodation.
“Our story deserves to be told because of everything you do and do,” Fisher said. “We want to raise us all together.”
This summer, they will host weddings, bowling tournaments, and volleyball leagues, said Brad Kreuger of Concordia Lanes/Kegel Club.
Paula Marty of Morgan Creek Vineyard said that this year they celebrated 25 years in business and that they will be celebrating all year long.
A full schedule of events begins with Mayify on Saturday, May 6th. Saturday nights host jazz nights.
TJ Campbell along with Turner Hall said they will host the National Turner Hall Festival. Approximately 1,500 to 2,000 participants are expected to attend during the last week of July. Turner Hall Restaurant is open Wednesday through Sunday with Monday and Tuesday as business days. People are allowed to visit Turner Hall on Mondays and Tuesdays to view the historic murals.
Amy Johnson, executive director of the Brown County Historical Society, said the museum is open Tuesday through Saturday. During the summer, BCHS will run the Kiesling House for historical programming on weekends. Operation of the popcorn cart will begin in May. Walking tours of downtown are usually available during US/Dakota war memorials but are available upon request.
The big news, said Grand CEO Laurel Stinson, was that the building was under construction. Work has already begun on the back of the building and work on the front will start next week. The Grand Hotel remains open with regular gallery and gift shop hours. Kids camps will be back this summer. Grand Kaberet continues to host live music every Friday.
Emily Gleisner with Schell’s Brewery is always full of visitors. It is often the first place that tourists visit and many ask about other activities available in Neu Ulm. Shell tries to direct people to other institutions in the community.
Schell’s will once again host music at the Biergarten during the summer months. The Bier Halle is open all week. Tours and rentals are available.
Sister Cities Commissioner Dick Siboth said the first weekend of Oktoberfest will host a delegation of mayors from Ulm and Neu Ulm.
Yvonne Weber of the Downtown Task Force said the KNUJ farmers’ market will be in the middle of German Street again. It will be open from 9 a.m. to noon every Saturday from mid-June through mid-October.
Joel King has been inducted into the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame. King recently helped the MMHF by bringing $100,000 in Prince memorabilia to the auditorium. Soon, a 15-foot statue of Guitar Prince will be installed outside the auditorium facing Broadway.
New Ulm Park Assistant and Director of Recreation Cheryl Corman said the department works to coordinate sports tournaments in the community. This brings many out-of-town visitors to stay overnight to contribute to the lodging tax.
Carol Guggisberg of MRCI Bargins said New Ulm is lucky to have three thrift stores and that they are a big draw.
Several individuals from the hotel and bed and breakfast industry spoke over the luncheon. Rentals are usually reserved all summer long for various events.
Airbnb operator Rod Miller said most bookings are for weekends, and many visitors come to town just to enjoy New Ulm.
Airbnb host Kate Sloot emphasized the work of all the tourism partners, saying everyone is doing a great job selling New Ulm. She said many visitors to New Ulm express interest in settling into the community after the visit.
“Everyone of us working together will help this economy so much,” Sloat said.
Chamber chair Warmaka said her story reflected that. Warmka and her husband, Erik, came to Neu Ulm as tourists in 2010, staying at a Bed & Breakfast to attend Bockfest. Four years later, they moved to Neu Ulm.
“We have a private community and we thank you all for what you do,” Warmka said.