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Area tourism business looking to improve in ’23 on good numbers from last year



The month of July may be ending, but there’s plenty of time left for tourism in Wisconsin this summer, which follows a 2022 tourism season where La Crosse County saw a double-digit rise in revenue from visitors.

The county measured an economic impact of $489 million from tourist spending, up 13 per cent from the previous year, according to state tourism figures. A.J. Frels of the Explore La Crosse bureau says people have had the urge to travel around Wisconsin since the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“People were pent up, they wanted to get out,” Frels tells WIZM News. “Leisure travel came back, with just fantastic response. We were the type of, and continue to be the type of destination the people enjoy, they could get out and do those outdoor activities.”

Frels says nearly 4000 jobs in the county are connected to the tourism business. La Crosse County continues to rank among Wisconsin’s top 10 counties for tourism revenue, steady at number 9.

The Viking Mississippi makes a return stop to La Crosse this week (PHOTO: Rick Solem)

Big riverboats will continue stops in La Crosse this week. The Viking cruise ship is due at Riverside Park on Friday, and the American Queen paddlewheeler, just here last week, returns on Saturday. Frels says people riding the big boats love the city’s downtown, and adds that it’s a good time for tourism in general for many cities in the region, including the Twin Cities and Chicago.

American Queen (file photo)

State figures show that direct visitor spending in La Crosse County rose just above $300 million in 2022, for a 16 per cent rise from the previous year.

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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