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STEVENS POINT, Wis. (May 3, 2021) – Visitor spending in 2020 was down statewide due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the tide is getting ready to turn. Visitors across the nation are gearing up to resume travel, with pent-up demand expected to result in a strong second-half of 2021 in Wisconsin.
“It has been a tough year, but there is a lot to look forward with events, sports tournaments and meeting and convention starting to return to the region,” said Sara Brish, executive director of the Stevens Point Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. “As we look forward, we are reminded of the importance that visitors traveling to the region have – and even more so, the direct impact they have to local businesses,” Brish continued.
Locally traveler spending reached to $97.9 million in Portage County in 2020, according to figures released by the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. Ranked 23 out of all 72 counties for the state, Portage County has seen steady, incremental growth in visitor spending since 2012. While 2020 and the pandemic brought a decline in visitors spending with more than 100 groups (from conferences to tournaments) canceled, traveler spending is poised to rebound. Behind the scenes the Stevens Point Area Convention & Visitors Bureau has been working to remain top-of-mind to locals and potential visitors, for when travel resumes.
Wisconsinites may have not traveled far, but their local spending was felt by local businesses struggling to make ends meet and the shifting restrictions last year. The Stevens Point Area Convention & Visitors Bureau helped to encourage locals to get out and explore, from outdoor assets to supporting local shops through promotions from the Fish Fry Giveaway, Ultimate Beer Roadtrip, and Merch Madness.
Brish said increased use of outdoor recreation offerings, including a 60% growth in use on the Green Circle Trail, allowed the region’s outdoor assets shine. It also called attention to the outdoors as a vital part of the economy throughout Wisconsin, with a record number of state park visits and increased fishing licenses and camping stays.
“We’re focused on the road ahead, supporting local businesses and encouraging visitors to join the recovery and plan their vacation days,” said Brish. The Stevens Point Area Convention & Visitors Bureau recently launched the Calling All Adventurers Sweepstakes, aimed at featuring local itineraries featuring things to see and do in the Stevens Point Area. The promotion, which runs through May 25 features weekly prize packages.
Despite the challenges, the travel industry faced, it still was a driver in communities around the state. Wisconsin welcomed 90.7 million visitors in 2020 in face of the pandemic. Employment supported by visitor spending tallied 107,500 jobs in the state – more than the population of Green Bay.
2020 saw many new developments and openings. The Sentry Curling Center was under construction, Artists & Fare in Plover was announced seeking to repurpose 91,000-square feet of the former Plover Shopko building, and the Lake Pacawa Project Phase 2 fundraising began. Two new breweries in the region, including District 1 Brewing in Stevens Point and Backcountry Brewing in Plover open their doors. Construction began for the Inn at SentryWorld, a boutique hotel slated to open this year. It also included; the completion of new flow trails for mountain biking at Standing Rocks County Park, the reroute of the Whiting Crossing Trail of the Green Circle replacing sidewalk connections with a more natural trail, and construction of the Green Circle Trailhead Project at Schmeeckle Reserve.
Later this summer, to continue to support local businesses and tourism assets, the Stevens Point Area will host a Tourism Takeover. The promotion will encourage locals to participate in a Bucket List Bingo, featuring things to see and do in the Stevens Point Area. Find more information about the 2020 celebration in the Stevens Point Area here: https://bit.ly/nttw20
The Stevens Point Area Convention & Visitors Bureau is an economic and community development organization whose purpose is to expand Portage County’s economy by attracting conventions, sporting events and leisure tourists to Portage County. Millions of dollars from visitor spending and increased tax revenues are generated to increase commerce, sustain jobs and to create a desirable destination. For more information about the Stevens Point Area, visit StevensPointArea.com.