Looking at the money generated through the room tax, it would appear Minocqua, Arbor Vitae, and Woodruff had a banner year for visitors in 2020.
When the pandemic hit and the stay home order went into place, the part of the Northwoods that depends on tourism wasn’t sure what to expect.
“In 2020, we really did not push tourism simply because of COVID-19,” said Let’s Minocqua Visitor’s Bureau and Chamber of Commerce Director Krystal Westfahl.
She says the tourism boost this summer was a direct result of years of work pushing the area as an outdoor recreation hub where people could get away from it all.
“We really wanted to make sure all of the destinations far and wide knew that we were the place to be when it came to outdoor recs,” said Westfahl. “Minneapolis, Chicago are our main markets. Obviously, Milwaukee, Madison, but we were going into Missouri, to Iowa, Ohio. We were getting new markets.”
While the chamber and many local businesses are still feeling the sting of no major events that usually bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars, people were still coming to the area. That’s reflected in the money that comes from Minocqua, Arbor Vitae, and Woodruff’s room tax on lodgings.
“People really saw the Minocqua area as the place vacation and to socially distance for good, bad or otherwise,” said Westfahl.
It generated enough money that the chamber is able to offer up $20,000 in grant money this year. The grant is open to non-profit groups and organizations in the Minocqua area that have a plan or idea that would help bring more visitors to the area.
Westfahl says the focus is on tourism destination development and promotion.
“We really want people to put some thought into this and really take this seriously,” said Westfahl. “We want to see growth in travel and tourism in the Northwoods and specifically to Minocqua, Arbor Vitae, and Woodruff.”
Westfahl says one organization could get the full $20,000 or it could be split into small amounts among multiple groups.
Interested groups can apply on the Let’s Minocqua website. Applications are due at the last Friday in January.