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Early Numbers Indicate Strong Winter Tourist Season

Joe Ross
Some Northwoods businesses say snowmobiles represent a large portion of winter tourist demand.

Many Northwoods communities are reporting an uptick in visitors this winter. 

Boulder Junction room tax receipts were up eight percent for last year’s fourth quarter, which ended in December.  Rhinelander room tax receipts were up four percent over that time, and Minocqua's went up two percent.  

Rhinelander Chamber Director Dana DeMet says more people seemed to be traveling to the Northwoods this year for the snow quality. 

“Last year was a huge winter, a very snowy winter, so we weren’t getting a ton of travelers from Central Wisconsin or Fox Valleys. Well this year, that snow was very much concentrated in our part of the woods.”

Boulder Junction Chamber of Commerce Director Theresa Smith says hotels and restaurants reported strong demand throughout the winter. 

Though trails closed in early March, good snowmobiling conditions seem to have been a big draw for visitors to the Northwoods this winter. 

Smith calls snowmobiling the bread and butter of the area’s winter tourism. 

“We were able to report all season that the trails were good, and that the riding was good. So that’s also an incentive for them to come our way.”

DeMet says his office received four times as many requests for information in January than it did last year, and snowmobilers played a big role. 

“Three out of every four requests included a snowmobile map with that request. And these are coming from central and southern Wisconsin; as well as places like Florida, Alabama, Montana.”

In addition to the good snow cover, DeMet also credits lower gas prices and home heating costs, especially compared to last year’s deep freeze and propane crisis. 

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