Wisconsin tourism industry shows new signs of life

Green Bay, from Peninsula State Park, Wisconsin. (Photo by: David Underwood/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

One of the industries hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic is showing signs of a rebound in Wisconsin.

According to the United States Travel Association's September data, Wisconsin experienced its first growth in monthly year-over-year tourism spending compared to 2019, which was the state's best year on record.

While September is just a snapshot of 2021 overall, Gov. Tony Evers celebrated the growth.

"The tourism industry is an essential part of our state and our economy. We’ve put more than $200 million in federal recovery funds toward helping our tourism and hospitality industries get through this pandemic and bounce back, and I’m proud of our work to help support our economic recovery," Evers said in a statement Thursday.

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In 2020, the state's tourism’s $17 billion industry declined by 22 percent compared to 2019. The Wisconsin Department of Tourism anticipates 2021 to still be down overall compared to 2019.

"We expect to see more bumps in the long road to recovery, but we are on the right path and we want to celebrate this moment for the tourism industry workers whose livelihoods depend on this rebound," said Tourism Secretary-designee Anne Sayers. "While meetings and conventions and other large group gatherings are slow to return, leisure travelers are making up for it by spending their time and their dollars in Wisconsin to experience the unexpected and when that happens, Wisconsin wins."

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