When the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year, the tourism industry predicting a big hit.
People were being told to stay home, avoid gatherings, and social distance.
It turns out many people saw the Northwoods as the perfect place to social distance and do those outdoor activities that were deemed safer.
But now, local chambers of commerce want to make sure the Northwoods remains a destination.
“We want to keep the Northwoods of Wisconsin on the top of every traveler’s mind as they start to travel again,” said Lauren Sackett, Executive Director of the Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce.
Rhinelander is one the chambers in our six-county region to get a $39,550 Joint Effort Marketing Grant from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism.
It’s to help the chambers continue their #WeLovetheNorthwoods campaign that encourages people to use social media to share why they love coming up here.
The Rhinelander Chamber also got a $39,500 JEM grant to help with its re-branding process.
Sackett said the chamber started working on the process two years ago with the Department of Tourism.
“They did some research for us, they worked with us and the local task force to kind of identify areas where we can improve, what are community is seen as from visitors and residents, and what we can do to promote ourselves better,’ said Sackett.
She said it’s important for the community to update with the times.
“The way that the Rhinelander community protected itself to visitors and even to residents just 10, 20 years ago might be different than it is now,” Sackett said. “We want to make sure that we are all up to date and sharing the best story of the community as we can.”
The chamber will be partnering with different community groups like DRI and the City of Rhinelander for the re-brand.
This JEM grant will be used to help cover the costs of another survey and task force that will launch this fall.
Rhinelander was also included in another group of Chambers of Commerce in the region that got a $38,000 JEM grant to promote ATV/UTV trails and destinations in the area.
The Forest County Chamber of Commerce got nearly $40,000 for its “Crandon Rocks Labor Day Weekend.”
In total, Northwoods Chambers got more than 156-thousand dollars to promote tourism in the area.
Through the re-branding, the Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce is working to bring more people the area.
Sackett said she’s exciting for the first big weekend of events this Saturday.
The Chamber is bringing back Art on the Courthouse Lawn and the Second Saturday in June car show. All events that didn’t happen last year because of the pandemic.
“Our art fair currently has over 60 vendors that will be filling almost 100 booth spaces on the courthouse lawn and davenport street. The streets behind courthouse, Baird Ave, we are welcoming back the car show. They have a cap of 140 cars and we’re approaching that cap. So you can expect to see 140 cars,” said Sackett.
Downtown Rhinelander Inc. is also hosting Bikes and Burger downtown. There’s a motorcycle show and downtown businesses will have burger specials.
That runs from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.
The car show and art fair are from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.