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Acting Tourism Dept. Secretary Sara Meaney Talks Travel

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Acting Wisconsin Department of Tourism director, Milwaukee native Sara Meaney , brings a strong background in marketing and promotion to her new position having held similar positions in Ireland and Colorado.

Addressing the Vilas County Chamber of Commerce annual dinner last week in St. Germain, Sec. Meaney outlined what's needed to improve tourism in Wisconsin.

“The states on either side of us, Minnesota and Michigan, spend more money on gathering data for tourism promotion and we need to gather a lot of data we currently don't have,” she said. “It matters what our customers think as they plan vacations. We have to spend our limited dollars smarter to compete.”

But Sec. Meaney felt the numbers are in Wisconsin's favor saying “the perception of people is we ranked the same or better in quality and the numbers are in our favor,” adding “the number one reason people come to Wisconsin for vacation is for outdoor receration.”

Tourism is the third largest economy in Wisconsin and employs just under 200,000 jobs but Sec. Meaney felt Wisconsin can do more in attracting the millennials – those age 23-35 – and that “we are significantly behind in attracting persons of color.”

Asked about transferring state parks from DNR to Tourism, Meaney thought it needed a great deal of study.

There has not yet been a date set for her confirmation hearing before the state Senate.

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