Spending by county tourists tops the rest of Wisconsin
Tourism declined across Wisconsin in pandemic-burdened 2020, but of the state’s 72 counties, visitor activity declined the least in Trempealeau County.
“Outdoor recreation is what people want right now,” said Rob Grover, director of tourism and economic development for the county. “Trempealeau County has been very strong and we want to maintain that.”
According to state Department of Tourism numbers, visitor spending in the state declined by 28.29 percent in 2020, with counties such as Dane seeing a fall in spending of 42.52 percent. By contrast, spending by tourists in Trempealeau County fell by just 1.98 percent compared to 2019.
The county’s Parks, Tourism and Economic Development committee last Tuesday agreed to continue financing a county-specific tourism plan by River Travel Media that will continue the theme of rolling out the welcome mat. The committee approved spending just under $5,000 to promote the county’s outdoor activities including Pietrek Park.
Grover said there is a strong case for spending on tourism marketing. As was the case with visitor spending, Trempealeau County saw the state lowest decline in local taxes, with a 6.72 percent decline, or a drop from 2019’s $3 million in taxes to $2.8 million in 2020.
The state’s promotion of tourism for the summer will also focus on outdoor activities and road trips, Julie Fox, the department’s regional tourism specialist, told the committee. The campaign will focus on nearby states and invite visitors to “Discover Something Unexpected” in Wisconsin.
One analysis says “87 percent of people intend to travel in the next six months and six out of 10 say they feel safe travelling,” Fox said.
Grover also invited committee members to consider how a portion of the county’s allotment of $5.47 million from the federal American Rescue Plan might be used to boost tourism. Committee member Jeanne Nutter suggested the county consider earmarking the money by inviting proposals similar to the process used to allocate money from a 2013 environmental compensation grant the county received as for a transmission line.