Wisconsin State Capitol

Acting Tourism Secretary Anne Sayers says the Joint Finance Committee’s vote to continue a $1.5 million addition to the Department of Tourism’s base budget will help Wisconsin remain competitive with other Midwestern states.

Tourism is in double the markets it was in 2019, and Sayers says it’s good marketing sense to stay there.

Sen. Joan Ballweg, who serves on the Legislature’s JFC, said the tourism industry will play a vital role in reinvigorating the state post-pandemic. The budget committee reviews and rewrites Gov. Tony Evers’ two-year budget plan before passage by the full Legislature. Then the document goes back to the governor for likely vetoes.

“Although the Department of Tourism is a relatively small department, the tourism industry supports over 200,000 jobs in our local communities and has an over $2 billion impact on our state’s economy,” Ballweg, R-Markesan, said after the provision passed in mid-May.

The committee also took action to continue to fund the Office of Outdoor Recreation, which was created in 2019 to promote Wisconsin as a top outdoor recreation state.

“Outdoor recreation has always been a top driver of visitation for Wisconsin, and it’s a growing sector of the economy even outside of tourism,” Sayers said. “There’s a lot of activity in this space nationally; Wisconsin is outpacing the national average.”

As participation levels in outdoor recreation skyrocketed in 2020, the office was there to organize that activity, Sayers explained. It’s also there for the manufacturers and retailers who are now raising questions around workforce, supply chain and how to keep the outdoor recreation economy growing.

That’s just one thing to help propel tourism into what looks

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