Gov. Tony Evers celebrated National Travel and Tourism Week in Wisconsin last week with a video message and stops across the state highlighting the strength of Wisconsin’s travel and tourism industry and the critical role it plays in the state’s economy. Gov. Evers has invested $ 1 billion of Wisconsin’s federal funds in small businesses and other industries impacted by the pandemic, $ 200 million of which was invested in the travel and tourism, hotels and lodging, and entertainment industries alone.
“We already knew that Wisconsin’s travel and tourism industry was an essential economic driver in our state, and we saw that firsthand last week from Door County to La Crosse,” said Gov. Evers. “This industry is incredibly resilient, and through the investments we’ve made as well as the hard work, determination, and ingenuity of so many business owners, workers, and industry leaders, we’m working together to make sure these critically important industries continue to rebound and recover. ”
On Tues., May 3, to kick off National Travel and Tourism Week, Gov. Evers, together with Wisconsin Department of Tourism Secretary-designee Anne Sayers, joined the Destination Door County National Travel & Tourism Week Breakfast in Sturgeon Bay. While there, he heard from local leaders about the state of the industry in Door County, witnessed the signing of a new Entity Agreement between Destination Door County and the Door County Tourism Zone Commission, and shared an update on tourism statewide and the major investments made by the Administration to help the industry recover and rebound.
“We were delighted to have Governor Evers and Tourism Secretary-designee Anne Sayers join us in Door County for our tourism industry breakfast on May 3,” said Julie Gilbert, CEO and president of Destination Door County. “It was a special day to recognize all the positive things tourism provides our stakeholders and residents in Door County, and having them both here in person to celebrate with us reflected their support for our industry, not only in Door County, but across the state . ”
Following their visit in Door County, Gov. Evers and Secretary-designee Sayers then went on to La Crosse where they joined Explore La Crosse, as well as many locally elected leaders, for a trolley tour of the city, stopping at Grandad Bluff, learning about the new cruise ship dockings at Riverside Park , and touring the newly renovated La Crosse Center. Finally, they ended their day with a stop for ice cream at The Pearl.
“This week, the La Crosse region was excited to welcome Governor Evers and Secretary-designer Anne Sayers to celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week 2022,” said AJ Frels, executive director of Explore La Crosse. “As the La Crosse region moves forward from 2021, much like the state of Wisconsin, we are happy to report that recovery for the tourism industry in the region came far quicker than anyone expected. With the focus on leisure travel, our area was able to see revenue numbers that rivaled and even, in some months, surpassed our banner year of 2019. Explore La Crosse looks forward to continuing to promote our region’s tourism growth as we journey through 2022 and beyond. ”
Then, on Wed., May 4, Gov. Evers and Secretary-designee Sayers visited the Inn at SentryWorld in Stevens Point, joining SentryWorld and the Stevens Point Area Convention & Visitors Bureau for a press conference and tour of the complex. SentryWorld has been selected to host the 2023 US Senior Open Championship, which will be the first Senior Open and third USGA Championship they have hosted. While there, the governor and secretary also presented two checks to the Stevens Point Area Convention & Visitors Bureau that were approved by the tourism board on April 26, including a “Ready Set Go!” grant of $ 30,000 and a “Meetings Mean Business” grant of $ 29,488.
“Tourism is at the heart of everything we do,” said Sara Brish, executive director of the Stevens Point Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. “From cultivating new ideas, strengthening relationships, and creating a positive economic impact that supports local business, jobs, and communities — tourism is vital to our success. We are grateful to receive two grants from the state of Wisconsin. These grants allow us to invest in tourism and keep our industry moving forward. ”
Additionally, on Fri., May 6, Gov. Evers and members of his cabinet hosted “Cabinet on the Road” events in the Eau Claire area with events in Osseo, Altoona, and Menomonie to meet with local business owners, farmers, and elected officials and discuss economic development and community development projects benefiting the region. The stops included a visit to a Goplin Homestead Farm in Osseo to discuss agritourism, a tour of the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts and a discussion about housing insecurity and homelessness issues in Menomonie, a visit to a local business and a discussion with the city of Altoona about a downtown revitalization project that will bolster the local economy and bring new businesses and visitors to the downtown area, and several local small business and restaurant stops. To conclude the day’s visits, Gov. Evers and his cabinet took a tour of The Brewing Project with owner, Will Glass, in Eau Claire.
Finally, on Fri., May 6, and Sat., May 7, Gov. Evers attended the 2022 Governor’s Fishing Opener in Shell Lake to help celebrate the end of winter and the start of the 2022-23 fishing season in Wisconsin, as well as the vital role fishing plays in Wisconsin’s tourism industry. In 2020, Wisconsin was third in the nation for out-of-state fishing licenses sold.
In addition to the governor’s stops detailed above, the governor also announced last week that Wisconsin has outpaced the national average for travel spending compared to 2019 for the past 24 months, signaling a strong recovery for the industry in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic . Wisconsin’s tourism industry sustained $ 17.3 billion in business sales in 2020, supporting more than 157,000 jobs. While 2021 economic impact data is expected to be released in June 2022, monthly visitor spending compared to Wisconsin’s record-setting 2019 has been above zero percent for four of the past six months, showing Wisconsin’s recovery continues to trend in a positive direction.