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Rise in tourism spending last year in La Crosse County called “tremendous”

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Wisconsin only got about half-a-year’s worth of tourism in 2021, but that was more than enough to make up for 2020.

Every county in the state experienced a rise in tourism spending last year above pandemic levels of 2020, with La Crosse County reporting a 23% increase to $262 million.

Explore La Crosse executive director A.J. Frels is very happy with the recovery.

“To see that accomplishment done by our tourism partners, our lodging partners, all the restaurants and shops and so forth in our area that were able to manage to accomplish that goal, that was tremendous,” Frels said. “We were very proud of that.”

Frels added that tourism spending for 2021 was still not quite up to the level in 2019, before COVID arrived. He credits outdoor recreation, as a form of social distancing, as one area that helped the region bounce back.

“We’re a very special area, and unique to this part of the country, “Frels said, “and really it helped us bring people in quickly and rebound, and we knew that was our calling card and we went for that when we marketed things to come back and see tourism bounce back.”

La Crosse County routinely places among the Top 10 counties in Wisconsin for visitor spending — ranking ninth in 2019.

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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