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Northwoods to Benefit from COVID-Recovery Tourism Grants

Ben Meyer/WXPR

Hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant money will flow to Northwoods counties to help support the tourism industry.

The state just announced the distribution of the grants, which especially benefit Vilas and Oneida counties.

Chambers of commerce and tourism organizations in Vilas County will get more than $400,000 in grant funding, while the same groups will get $300,000 in Oneida County.

It’s through the state Department of Tourism’s TRAVEL grant program, and the money comes from federal CARES Act dollars.

“The TRAVEL grant program is aid to the recovery of local entities that promote tourism, like chambers, which is one of Wisconsin’s largest industries and was hit hard by COVID,” said Oneida County Tourism Council President Collette Sorgel.

The money can go to continuation of tourism operations and marketing of local business activities.

Sorgel says many small businesses are still hurting from having to close during the Safer at Home order.

“That really hurt a lot of businesses that had walk-in traffic that did a lot of in-person traffic,” she said. “Some businesses have recovered. Some are doing as well as before. A few have closed their doors.”

Sorgel said Northwoods tourism leaders are tepidly optimistic for the winter season.

“We’re tepidly optimistic. We hope that the snowmobile season and the winter silent sports seasons will be very robust. We see a lot of people wanting to do outdoor activities where they are six feet apart, where they’re not in huge groups,” she said.

In addition to the money going to Vilas and Oneida counties, about $39,000 will go to Langlade County, $32,000 to Price County, $31,000 to Lincoln County, $27,000 to Iron County, and $18,000 to Forest County.