February 27, 2020 –Otter Tail County, MN–During the 2020 Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference, held at Arrowwood Resort, Alexandria, several individuals, organizations and tourism businesses were recognized with Explore Minnesota Tourism Awards for their contributions to the state’s $16 billion travel industry.  Otter Tail County earned the ‘Only in MN Tourism Trailblazer Award’ for their Rural Rebound marketing campaign and Otter Tail Lakes Country Association won the ‘Excellence in Marketing for Social Media Campaign’.  

“It was an exciting evening” said Erik Osberg, Rural Rebound Initiative Coordinator for Otter Tail County. “I thought we had a chance to maybe win one award, but to be called to the stage twice, that was special. Many people have worked very hard to put Otter Tail County on the map over the years. It is truly a team effort.”  Otter Tail Lakes Country Association Marketing & Membership Director Marie Noplos, Otter Tail Lakes Country Association Board Member Jean Bowman and Dena Johnson of OTLCA were in attendance and were happy to accept the awards on behalf of the organizations. 

"It's an honor to be recognized among our peers for the great work being done in Otter Tail County," said Jean Bowman, Visit Fergus Falls and member of the OTLCA board. "Accolades were given for the creativity, authenticity and strategic partnering of tourism and economic development." 

Data suggests that if people are exposed to tourism marketing, they view the destination as a more favorable place to live and work. The Rural Rebound Initiative marketing effort is designed to use tourism to introduce Otter Tail County as a place for people to live and work as well as visit.  

Otter Tail Lakes Country Association is a member driven organization designed to promote the area as a destination.  They have been using the tagline “Find Your Inner Otter” since 2015 Their mascot is an otter puppet and in 2019 they distributed over 100 videos on digital media platforms with many of them featuring the Inner Otter puppet visiting various places in Otter Tail County.  

“We are honored to be recognized for our social media marketing. We have a robust strategy we use to promote Otter Tail County, said Noplos.  “We work to help visitors find their Inner Otter, whether they are looking for a great place to stay, something fun to do, or are ready to live here.”

Additional awards were presented in the following categories: 

· New Event of the Year: 2019 World Ploughing Competition, Lake of the Woods 

· New Event Award of Merit: Warroad’s October Festival 

· Only in MN Icon Award: Saint Paul Winter Carnival 

· Marketing Partner of the Year: Lake of the Woods Brewing Company 

Approximately 250 tourism professionals attended the annual conference, including representatives of convention and visitors’ bureaus and other tourism promotion organizations; hotels, resorts and campgrounds; and a variety of attractions, such as museums, parks, zoos, malls and historic sites. For more details about the Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference, visit exploreminnesota.com/conference

Find Your True North at exploreminnesota.com, and share it with @exploreminn on Twitter, or @exploreminnesota on Instagram and Facebook, using #OnlyinMN.