Sveine named Tourism Person of the Year

Former Chamber tourism manager reminds audience tourism is ‘a big deal for New Ulm area

Terry Sveine, former Tourism manager for the New Ulm Area Chamber, and this year’s Tourism of the Year award winner, discussed his time promoting New Ulm during the annual Tourism Luncheon. He remember as special Hermann the German bobble head promotion that went over extremely well. Individuals were lined up around the block to get one of the bobble head figures.

COURTLAND – Members of the New Ulm Area Chamber and New Ulm Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) gathered outside Courtland at River Ridge Shooting Club Wednesday to discuss all things tourism.

This years event opened with a special recognition for Terry Sveine, who was selected as the 2024 Tourism Person of the Year.

Sveine formally served as the New Chamber’s Tourism manager for 15 years. He has continued to promote New Ulm after retiring.

Sveine is a New Ulm native who worked in the travel agency business for 17 years. In 1995, he moved back to New Ulm to work for Emerald Travel. By 1999, Sveine said he saw a change in the travel agency business due to the rise of online travel agencies. In 1999, he took on a new position as the New Ulm Chamber’s Tourism Manager and it proved to be a perfect match.

“I got paid to tell people about the town I love,” he said. As tourism manager, he was working with individual and families to visit New Ulm and devised tour itineraries. During his 15 years as tourism manager, he had a part in winning four State of Tourism awards.

New Ulm Chamber and Visitors Bureau members gave Terry Sveine the Tourism Person of the Year award during the Tourism Luncheon, Wednesday. The event was held at River Ridge Gun Club and was a chance for tourism stakeholders to gather and discuss the upcoming tourist season. (L to R): Chair of Convention and Visitors Bureau Char Reinhart-Kalk; Tourism and Member Services Manager Karen Haala; Tourism Person of the Year Terry Sveine and Chamber President Sarah Warmka.

“My job as the ‘tourism guy’ at the Chamber of Commerce was one of the most satisfying jobs of my life.”

Sveine said that overall, travel and tourism is about economics and in New Ulm.

“When you understand that bringing even one couple to New Ulm for a weekend adds $200-400 to the economy that we didn’t have before, you can see how big a deal tourism is for New Ulm,” he said.

Sveine pointed out that New Ulm Ulm tourism is technically a multi-million dollar industry.

“We don’t think of that sometimes, because its not a Kraft or 3M, but if you count all the people who work in tourism — even fractionally — it is a big employers,” he said.

Tourism and Member Services Manager Karen Haala tests the shooting simulator at River Ridge Gun Club during the luncheon.

Sveine praised the continued innovation for promoting tourism. He applauded last year’s “Spikin’ in the Street” and the street bean bag tournament and even the recent foosball tournament held by Schell’s.

Sveine encourage everyone to volunteer time with community boards and committees as this also benefits toursim.

“By working together we call all enjoy propensity through tourism,” he said.

Following Sveine’s speech, current New Ulm Chamber Tourism manager gave a breakdown of local industry marketing efforts.

Haala said recent numbers show the leisure and hospitality industry in Brown County grossed nearly $46.6 million in gross sales and employs 1,100 people in the private sector.

Marketing efforts typically focus on places 60 miles away from New Ulm because tourists traveling longer distance are more likely to stay overnight. Haala said New Ulm is heavily promoted in Sioux Falls, Rochester and the Twin Cities.

Haala said in September, the Chamber will work with the Minnesota Twins’ for the German Heritage Night.

Another goal of Tourism gathering was to create cross-promotion among different businesses and organizations. Tourism partner was able to give a quick promotion and update on activities during this tourism season.

New Ulm Park and Recreation Director Joey Schugel said his department works to make sure visiting tourist enjoy the community and return. One of the big changes this year is with the Summer Concert in the Park series. Schugel said after 30 years, the concert series will move from Monday to Thursday nights.

State Street Theater Executive Director Lori Jewell said in additional to having a performance space, the theater is home to historical murals. These murals are federally owned and it is SST’s responsibility to take care of the murals, but also to share them.

Jewell said SST would be wiling to give tours of the theater space to visitors. She said if alerted in advance, SST could have a trained docent give the tour and answer questions.

Bethel Balge with ProMusica Minnesota said her organization is working to bring audio beauty to New Ulm to match the visual beauty. ProMusica has sponsored park signs with QR codes that when scanned, play classical music. The music was selected to match the park locations.

Schell’s Visitor’s Center General Manager Curt Van Asten said this summer he is spearheading an event called “Between the Breweries.” This will be a history, music and beer festival in South Park on June 22.

Schell’s is partnering with the Historical Society. Between musical acts, there will be short historical presentations on the history of New Ulm. The event will include the old Hauenstein Brewery campus.

Amy Johnson with Brown County Historical Society (BCHS) said the Kiesling House will open Memorial Day, the annual book sale fundraiser begins this Friday.

River Ridge Shooting Club received a special thanks for hosting the Tourism event. The club recently joined the New Ulm Chamber. Access to the club has improved since the completion of Highway 14, which now only a few minutes drive from New Um.

River Ridge Shooting Club general manager Patrick Thompson said he is excited to be part of the Chamber and New Ulm community.

The Shooting Club has a 1,000 yard rifle range, archer range, trap shooting, shooting simulator, classrooms with space available for hosting events.

At the close of the event, Haala thanked everyone involved with New Ulm tourism.

“New Ulm is an easy destination to sell to visitors and it is because of the work you do,” Haala said. “The work you do does not go unnoticed, it is very much appreciated. I look forward to working with you to ensure New Ulm stays a top tourist destination.”


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