Governor Tony Evers and cabinet members stopped by Rhinelander Tuesday to spread the word about their version of the upcoming biennial budget debate.
His focus at the Cedric Vig Outdoor Recreation Center was the correlation between a clean environment and the tourism industry.
Tourism brings in $20 billion in revenue each year and supports 195,000 jobs, with a 7-1 return on investment. He is also putting in the budget a new position....outdoor recreation... within the Department of Tourism, saying a significant number of visitors like our outdoors.
"...In this budget we are creating an office of outdoor recreation that will be housed in the Department of Tourism. I can tell you from visiting other states and talking to other Governors, there is some momentum recognizing outdoor recreation is not only an economic driver but also a significant part of the tourism industry...."
Evers says, if approved, Wisconsin will be the first state in the Midwest with this focus. Outside analysts have said outdoor recreation is more than 85 percent of Wisconsin visitor spending. He also said he's recommending upping the Tourism marketing budget by $5 million over two years.
Tourism Secretary-designee Sara Meaney says with the new money, they're looking for a bigger 'bang for the buck'...
"...Assess how dollars have been spent, geographically, in the past. and double down in areas where we need to invest more based on where the most interest is coming from and also target some new potential opportunities. With a five million dollar lift over the course of two years, we still have limited options, marketing is expensive, so what we will be doing is an assessment based on what the dollars end up being when the budget plays fully out...."
DNR Secretary-designee Preston Cole says the environment must be healthy to keep people coming to Wisconsin.