You and I both know our industry is hurting. Recently, the US Travel Association crystallized the impact we are seeing with new economic impact data.

That research shows America’s economy is projected to lose 5.9 million tourism jobs by the end of April and a negative GDP impact of $502 million in 2020. In Wisconsin, total weekly travel spending plummeted 80% year-over-year last week. We continue to see COVID-19 hurt the tourism industry while we all practice what we know to be life-saving measures by staying safer at home.

There is simply no doubt that this is a difficult time. To help us recover faster, it’s important to implement data-driven strategies. That’s why we will continue to share information with you to help you make sense of all this.

Have you visited our industry tourism page for helpful resources yet? I pay just as much attention to the COVID-19 curve as I do the data and charts generated by Longwoods International (weekly traveler sentiment) and Arrivalist (daily travel index) to stay on top of the fast moving impact COVID-19 is having upon tourism. As the COVID-19 curve changes, so too will traveler sentiment and that is where we can find hope through all this.

Meanwhile, our industry continues to plan to lead Wisconsin’s bounce back and there is still reason for optimism. Recently the Democratic National Convention Committee hit pause, announcing July’s Milwaukee convention will now be held the week of August 17. Postponement of this historic event, rather than cancellation, is good news. The convention is estimated to have a $200M economic impact for the state, giving hotels and restaurants and all those whose jobs rely on their successful operation, a critically needed boost. And in other good news, PGA of America confirmed earlier this week that the 2020 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Kohler will remain as scheduled, September 25 – 27.

We continue to urge all meetings and conventions to postpone their plans in Wisconsin, rather than cancel. However, the future of mass gatherings are in the hands of public health professionals. Let’s hope people continue to do the right thing and thus, flattening the curve so we can all get back to business.

Right now, Wisconsinites are lifting each other up and providing support in unique ways. Through #HowWiHelp, we are highlighting people who are volunteering, donating blood, food and other essentials, supporting restaurants through curbside pickups, and donating their money and skills in ways we have never seen before. For example, Beth Knapinski from the Fox Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau shot a short video encouraging physical fitness and community engagement through “clean walks” in which you bring a trash bag with you on your walk and help clean up your neighborhood. And Sassy Cow Creamery in Columbus has been filling their “Kindness Cooler” daily with milk and dairy products, free for the community to share with those in need. The Pabst Theater Group in Milwaukee has established an employee relief fund, asking theatergoers to donate to support the more than 200 event staff, ushers, bartenders, and stagehands who are currently unable to work – their efforts have raised $70,000, 100% of which goes directly to the staff. Be inspired by the many ways Wisconsinites are lifting up and supporting their communities here.

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