Last year was not a good one for Cook County tourism. According to the Auditor-Treasurer’s year-end lodging tax report, 2009 was down 8.3 percent from 2008. Tourism had been riding an upward trend since 2002, as measured by the county’s lodging tax receipts. The 2009 recession coincides with a drop in revenues to levels below those seen at the mid-decade mark.
According to data the Cook County Financial Coordinator John Peterson terms balanced, 2009 brought in $743,962 in tax, placing it between the revenues generated in 2004 and 2005. Peterson says that figure takes disparities between how different businesses report lodging tax revenues into account, making for a realistic comparison.
The Auditor’s office monitors reports from three tourism associations. During 2009, the Lutsen-Tofte area suffered the greatest downturn in business from the year previous at 11.1 percent. The Gunflint Trail was down 7.8 percent, while Grand Marais dropped just four-tenths of a percent.