ST. PAUL — Minnesota's official tourism department plans to award more than $1 million in grants to the state's beleaguered tourism industry, Gov. Tim Walz's office announced Wednesday, Nov. 25.

Private, non-profit tourism and event promotion groups can apply to the program beginning from now until mid-March of 2021.

"COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the Minnesota travel industry and communities that rely on that tourism," Walz said in a news release. "These crisis grants will provide immediate relief for the travel organizations that contribute so much to the vitality of our state."

Grant amounts range between $1,250 and $17,500 and are based on the amount of money that applying organizations previously received from the state in tourism marketing grants. Only one grant will be made available per Minnesota community, according to the new grant program guidelines.

The aid may provide some relief for an industry hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Travel plans disrupted by the pandemic cost the state tourism industry some $5 billion this summer, according to a September news release from Explore Minnesota, the state tourism promotion office.

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Minnesota's tourism industry generates in years past generated some $16 billion annual in sales. More than 73 million travelers from across the U.S. and the globe visit the state each year.