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Minocqua Sees Steady Stream of Visitors this Summer Despite COVID-19 Pandemic

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Town of Minocqua
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Many of the businesses in the Northwoods depend on summer tourism.

When the covid-19 pandemic started in the spring, Let’s Minocqua Visitor’s Bureau & Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Krystal Westfahl wasn’t sure what to expect.

“We really had no grasp on what was going to happen over the course of this summer,” said Westfahl.

Governor Tony Evers issued a stay home order in late March.

At that time, Westfahl and most other chamber directors had to change their focus.

“When the safer at home order did come out we were instructed and encouraged to really stop marketing that was a really hard pill to swallow for our organization because we have always said we drive economic impact to our communities through visitation,” said Westfahl.

“Let’s Minocqua Later” became the tag line. The chamber set up virtual visits on its website and encouraged people plan their trips for when it was safe to travel again.

Then the state supreme court overturned the safer at home order and just about the only COVID-related restrictions in the Northwoods were those that were self-imposed.

Then the tag line became “Let’s Mincoqua Responsibly”. Westfahl said it was finding that balance between inviting people to visit to help keep businesses alive, but doing it safely so as not spread the virus in the communities.

“We jokingly have said we were social distancing before it was cool,” said Westfahl.

Westfahl said hotels and lodging properties seemed to have a steady stream of business throughout July, though not the type of visitor the Northwoods usually sees.

Usually, hotels and resorts see the same family groups year after year and visits timed with major events.

“That was kind of all thrown out the window this year,” said Westfahl. “We weren’t sure what we were going to see. And we saw a whole new fresh group of new visitors that were coming from all points south as well as from the west. We were getting a lot of folks from the Minneapolis area.”

Westfahl is cautiously optimistic about this fall.  

“From all accounts it does seem like our fall tourism is going to be nearly as strong as it has in the past, but jury is still out on what their spending habits are going to be once they’re here,” said Westfahl. “I think that was kind of the big question, what we were going to see when it came time for them to go shopping and dining and all of that stuff.”

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