Tourism recovering both statewide and in La Crosse County
LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) - The tourism industry is beginning to rebound in La Crosse County and the state as a whole.
According to state tourism officials, the pandemic caused a 30% decline in direct spending by tourists in 2020.
La Crosse County Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director A.J. Frels says the Coulee Region saw a similar drop-off in visitor spending.
“La Crosse County in 2019 ranked number nine out of 72 counties at $281 million in direct visitor spending,” Frels detailed. “When the pandemic hit in 2020, we saw that direct visitor spending drop $85 million in our county alone.”
Pandemic restrictions may have resulted in some modifications to county activities, but a broad range of outdoor events were still available.
“Hiking, biking, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, anything on the water, we knew that those activities would work and we could use those to help people still get out and do some things,” Frels said.
Tourism numbers are now starting to tick back up and overtake some pre-pandemic levels.
“Hotel occupancy in April of 2021 was at 59% for La Crosse County, in [April] 2019 it was at 57%,” Frels added.
Travel Wisconsin Communications Director Craig Trost says the state is also bouncing back, with some areas exceeding pre-pandemic tourism stats.
“Recreational trips of two days or more are already beating not just the pandemic’s 2020 but our record-setting 2019 as well,” Trost described.
Frels expects tourism to continue increasing in La Crosse County over the next several months.
He encourages travelers to visit whenever they feel comfortable.
“Be smart about keeping yourself healthy, we’re ready for you, we’re looking forward to having you back at your pace when you’re ready to travel,” Frels expressed.
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