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State grant could help La Crosse recover from tourism slump

Brad Williams

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Earlier this week, the TSA screened one million travelers in one day at American airports, for the first time since March. 

It’s a sign that the tourism industry is digging out of the hole caused by the COVID pandemic. 

The director of the Explore La Crosse agency hopes to see local businesses such as hotels recover soon. 

A.J. Frels says area hotels are down about $16 million in revenue, compared to last year, with some hotels counting only a handful of guests a night during the start of the pandemic.    

Frels says a new $473,000 tourism grant from Madison could go a long way to help La Crosse market itself as a travel destination for next year and beyond.    

He’s hoping especially to keep meeting planners interested in coming to the La Crosse Center, which is undergoing a $40 million renovation to remain competitive in the convention business.

Frels says all types of media will be used for that marketing, including printing 90,000 copies of the La Crosse area visitors guide.      

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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