Wisconsin’s tourism industry is beginning to bounce back from a severe drop during the pandemic.
State tourism secretary Anne Sayers told a tourism conference at the La Crosse Center that September revenue in the industry was above figures from the same month in 2019, before COVID-19 arrived.
“For the very first time since the onset of the pandemic, we posted a positive number over 2019 for a single month,” Sayers said. “It’s the first time that we have seen that positive growth for the industry, and it means good things are ahead. We expect the rocky road will continue, but we’re on the right path.”
Wisconsin is one of just 13 states to experience positive growth in tourism over 2019. Sayers says Wisconsin is increasing marketing to more urban areas outside the state, including Duluth, Des Moines and Rockford.
Sayers is excited about coverage of state-based events, such as the Milwaukee Bucks championship and the recent Ryder Cup golf tournament.
She added that even renovations of convention centers, like in La Crosse, can help bring more events to Wisconsin.
“We have the facility space here with the La Crosse Center,” she said. “You guys are on the map, too, as a place for meetings and conventions where those meeting hosts can feel really comfortable and offer something really special to meeting participants.”
The La Crosse Center is almost finished with its $42 million renovation and expansion, which includes a second ballroom, an outdoor patio, a rebuilt North Hall and a two-story front entrance along 2nd Street.