Douglas County Excited for Tourism Comeback After Pandemic Dip

According to the Department of Tourism's report travelers to Douglas County spent $82.7 million in direct visitor spending last year -- a 22% dip from 2019.

SUPERIOR, Wis.- New numbers just released on Wisconsin’s tourism last year show a dip in visitor spending due to the pandemic. But Douglas County tourism officials look toward the future excited for a comeback.

“A lot of other areas are experiencing tourism impacts of much more than that,” said Taylor Pedersen, President and CEO of Travel Superior. “So we’re excited that we’re starting to see tourism come back.”

At this time every year the Wisconsin Department of Tourism releases the impacts tourism had on the previous year’s economy.

While Wisconsin as a whole welcomed more than 90 million visitors in 2020, tourism officials in Douglas County say they expected COVID to deal a blow.

According to the Department of Tourism’s report travelers to Douglas County spent $82.7 million in direct visitor spending last year — a 22% dip from 2019.

“Quite honestly, that number’s hopeful for me,” Pedersen said, “”It could’ve been a lot worse.”

State and local tax revenue from tourism decreased more than $2 million.

At Travel Superior, Pedersen said that can hurt the entire local economy more than people sometimes realize.

“A lot of people think ‘well I don’t interact with tourists in my day to day life,’ but it effects everybody,” he said. “Those are taxes that are citizens are gonna need to makeup Where we don’t have to worry about if a tourist is footing the bill on that.”

However, according to Pedersen, Douglas County fared better than other counties in both Wisconsin and Minnesota.

He owes that to residents supporting local businesses and outdoor attractions even more during the pandemic.

“Our golf course is doing fantastic things and seeing really good results, our lakes, our parks, our trails are busier than they’re ever been,” said Pedersen. “That’s part of the reason that we’re doing OK. Because a lot of our tourism offering is outdoors.”

Pedersen adds the launch of Travel Superior’s new marketing campaign “Remember Fun” is getting good feedback in the Twin Cities, Southern Wisconsin, and the Chicago area.

Pedersen says nationwide 87% of Americans are planning trips in the next six months. Businesses in Douglas County are taking note, he said, extending mask wearing through the summer, and heavy cleaning to emphasize their safety

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