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Politics & Government

Meaney: Wisconsin Tourism Well Positioned When Virus Threat Is Over

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Like the rest of the economy, tourism has taken a major blow from the COVID-19 crisis. But 2019 numbers reported by state tourism leaders recently reflected some of the highest spending in a decade.

Department of Tourism Secretary-designee Sara Meaney says traveler spending in Wisconsin is down about $1.7 billion in the last seven weeks. But she says Wisconsin is well-positioned when things begin to open up again. because of location and its many assets not the least of which is outdoor recreation..

"Outdoor recreation has been a top driver of visits to Wisconsin even before the current circumstances we are in. We know that to be a significant piece of the base why people come to Wisconsin, why they spend time and money here..."

Meaney says outdoor recreation will be a key part of what she terms the 'new reality for quite some time'. She says while last year they focused on festivals and large-crowd events, this year and beyond are likely to feature places away from crowds....

"Wide open spaces, beautiful scenic expanses, smaller group activities. Things like getting away with people you know and love. This year's campaign, when it's appropriate to start promoting actually fits in beautifully with what research has told us people want..."

Spending numbers released last week show Oneida and Vilas county with $241 million dollars each in 2019 tourist spending. Iron county had $21 million dollars in spending, Price county $20 million and Forest county $14 million.

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