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Past Tourism Tidbits Newsletters

11/11 Tourism Industry Touts Strong Summer Season
5/10 Tourism Expenditures Down in 2009 , Effective Tourism Promotion Could Make 2010 A Better Year
12/09 Traveler Shopping Is Big Business In WI
5/09 Tourism Imdustry Strong in 2008, But Economic Downturn and Legislative Proposals Could Dampen Future Growth
3/09 September 1 School Start Date Good for Families and Wisconsin's Economy
2/09 Spending Local Room Tax Revenue Correctly Can Bring Local Economic Boost
6/08 Meetings and Convention Spending Grows in 2007
4/08 Hollywood's Bright Lights Bringing Big Bucks to Wisconsin
2/08 Packers and other Pro Teams Generate Millions for Wisconsin
12/07 Culinary Tourism Cooking Up Business in Wisconsin
10/07 Wisconsin Tourism Going Green
8/07 Putting the “Tour” in Wisconsin Tourism
7/07 A Hole in One for Wisconsin Tourism
6/07 Angling for Tourism Dollars
5/07 Tourism blossoms in Spring
4/07 Off-Road Adventures: Bicycle Touring in Wisconsin
3/07 Homing In on Wisconsin's History
2/07 Where Outdoor Fun Takes Flight
1/07 The Bread and Butter of Wisconsin
12/06 Embracing the Cold with Local Winter Spirit
11/06 On the Hunt for Tourism
10/06 Raking in the Money: Autumn Tourism
9/06 A Simple Life Makes Cents
7/06 Wisconsin's Maritime History is a Tourism Treasure
6/06 Cah - Ching; Music To Our Ears
5/06 Fishing Reels in the Cash
4/06 Expanding Minds Enriches Economy
3/06 Racing for Tourism Dollars
2/06 Wisconsin’s Olympic Investment Pays Back
1/06 Therapy Showers Bring Tourism Dollars
12/05 Wisconsin's Small Towns See Big Money
11/05 Move Over Snowmobile, There May Be a New King of the Trail
10/05 Ag-tourism: A Cash Cow Worth Milking
9/05 Frank Lloyd Wright, The Quest for Utopia
8/05 If They Nest Here, People Will Come
7/05 Bring in the Delegates, Bring in the Money
6/05 A Taste of Door County
5/05 Cashing in on the Melting Pot
4/05 An Outdoor Experience
3/05 Wisconsin Indoor Waterparks
2/05 Hit the Slopes - Wisconsin Ski Industry
1/05 Wisconsin Snowmobiling
12/04 Bringing in the Big Bucks: Wisconsin Deer Hunting
11/04 A Home Away from Home: Wisconsin's Lodging Industry
10/04 The Arts in Wisconsin: Painting a Picture of Economic Prosperity Across the State
9/04 Home Grown Tourism: Wisconsin Fairs
8/04 Mixing Business and Pleasure: The Impact of Conventions on Wisconsin’s Economy
6/04 Sports Events and Tourism: Something for Everyone to Cheer About
5/04 Wisconsin: An International Destination
4/04 Grand Excursion 2004: Building Partnerships, Community and Pride in Heritage
3/04 Food for Thought:The Restaurant Industry's Impact on Tourism and Wisconsin's Economy
2/04 Tour de Wisconsin?

Weather, Closer-to-Home Vacations and Additional State Marketing Seen As Factors - 11/2011

The warm summer breezes may now be just a memory, but many tourism businesses and destinations are still feeling the benefits of a strong summer tourism season. While the complete picture of the summer tourism season won't be available until next year, there are many indicators signaling that Summer 2011 was strong. Several factors played into the successful tourism season. Certainly, the great weather in July and August helped out as did the trend of travelers deciding to take vacations closer home for economic reasons. Another vital factor is the late season promotional push by the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. The Department wasted no time putting to work the additional dollars approved by the State Legislature and Governor Walker as part of the state budget.

"A year ago, we urged our elected leaders to increase the Department of Tourism's promotion budget as a way to help jumpstart our state economy," said TFW President Ed Lump. "Governor Walker and the State Legislature responded with a $2.5 million annual increase. We are already seeing the pay off of that wise decision."

Racine County lodging occupancy from Memorial Day to Labor Day was up 4.3% over 2010 and 8% over 2009. Fox Cities reported the highest hotel occupancy rate in June since 2006 and the best July since 2005. Part of the occupancy was due to the Fox Cities and Green Bay hosting the largest youth soccer tournament ever held in Wisconsin in June,which generated more than 9200 hotel rooms sold. Fox Cities lodging occupancy rate is up 3.5% year to date over 2010. Milwaukee's 2011 summer season showed further growth over 2010 with hotel room revenues up 7.7% . Two of the areas largest events grew attendance, Summerfest drew 878,636 attendees up 2.6% from 2010 and State Fair drew 911,231 up 4% from 2010. New events like Summer of China at the Milwaukee Art Museum and Summerfest's Rock and Soul Marathon had great success adding to our very busy summer. Sheboygan projects a 11% increase in room tax collections for July -September, fueled in part by the ISAF Nations Cup Grand Final, an international sailing competition. Reports from popular tourism destinations like Wisconsin Dells, Door County, Lake Geneva and Bayfield also indicated a strong tourism season, particularly in July and August. Noah's Ark in Wisconsin Dells reported being slightly up over 2010, which was a banner year for the water park.

Also, according to the Wisconsin Departments of Tourism and Workforce Development, 6200 leisure and hospitality industry jobs were added in Wisconsin between May and June. The number does not including seasonal positions added to meet the increase in summer travel. Lump stated that according to the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, the 2010 state tourism advertising campaign generated a 7:1 return on investment in state and local tax dollars. "We expect that strong ROI to continue for 2011," he concluded.

Tourism Expenditures Down in 2009 - Economic Recovery and Effective Tourism Promotion Could Make 2010 A Better Year- 5/10
The Wisconsin Department of Tourism reported this week that travelers spent an estimated $12 billion in Wisconsin during 2009, down nearly 8 percent, or $1 billion, from the prior year. As a result, there were similar percentage decreases in estimated full-time-equivalents jobs, resident income, and taxes and fees paid to Wisconsin governments. Certainly, the economic downturn took a toll on Wisconsin's tourism industry. People had less discretionary money to spend on their vacations. It also didn't help that the state has been cutting the tourism promotion budget significantly during the past year, inviting fewer people to enjoy our attractions, restaurants, lodging facilities and destinations.

But, enough bad news. The economy appears to be gradually recovering and people are starting to travel again. Wisconsin tourism could fare well in this recovery if it capitalizes on such travel trends as closer-to-home vacations and more value-conscious consumers. In addition to offering unique, beautiful and fun places to visit, Wisconsin is ideally situated near the large population bases of Chicago and the Minneapolis/St. Paul and has five million residents. In addition, Wisconsin's tourism product has long been considered to be a good value. It is vital for Wisconsin to take advantage of these trends and properly invest in tourism promotion. Michigan is the most recent example of how tourism promotion plays an important role in increasing tourism and government revenues. The state invested $30 million in a one-time national advertising campaign, about twice as much as it typically budgets for tourism promotion.

A recent study by Longwoods International found that the national Pure Michigan campaign motivated 680,000 new trips to Michigan from outside the Great Lakes region, at a time when travel and tourism was on a decline nationally due to the recession. Those visitors spent $250 million at Michigan businesses last summer as a direct result of the Travel Michigan advertising program. In addition, these new out-of-state visitors paid $17.5 million in state taxes while in Michigan, yielding a $2.23 return on investment for the tourism advertising. There is strong support in Wisconsin for investing in tourism promotion. A recent statewide public opinion survey showed that 93% of Wisconsin voters agree that "tourism is important to the Wisconsin economy and that 89% said "promoting tourism helps strengthen Wisconsin's economy."

Let's listen to our residents and invest more money in tourism promotion. The result will be more people vacationing and spending money in our great state at a time when we need the jobs and tax revenues tourism generates.

Traveler Shopping Is Big Business In WI - 12/09

The holiday shopping season may be in full swing, but visitors to Wisconsin are spending billions of dollars year round as they travel the state. In 2008, travelers spent an estimated $4 billion on shopping expenditures, more than any other travel expenditure category (Source: The Economic Impact of Expenditures by Travelers on Wisconsin Report, 2008). Shopping expenditures made up 30% of overall travel expenditures, followed by food purchases (27%), recreation expenditures (22%) and lodging expenditures(13%).

Destinations across the state report that shopping is a big cash-ringing activity. In Door County, visitors spent an estimated $139 million on shopping last year. Wisconsin Dells estimates that shopping expenditures by travelers was $289 million, or 26% of overal traveler expenditures last year . The Fox Cities, dubbed Wisconsin's Shopping Place, estimates travelers spent $125 million on shopping last year. The area's most popular shopping place, The Fox River Mall, has 16 million guests a year.

Like Wisconsin, shopping is also the most popular popular trip activity for U.S. travelers. The U.S. Travel Association estimates that 34 percent of all person-trips or over 345 million U.S. person-trips include shopping. Shoppers are almost as likely to stay at a hotel, motel, or bed and breakfast establishment (49% of person-trips) as they are with friends or relatives (48%). Overnight shopping trips average 4.8 nights and they spend, on average, $563, excluding the cost of transportation to their destination. Most (81%) shopping travelers say that their most recent trip that included shopping was for leisure purposes. (Source: Domestic Travel Market Report, 2003 Edition and The Shopping Traveler). Across the nation and across Wisconsin, travelers like to "shop'til they drop". And, as they do so, they bring lots of dollars and sales tax revenue to our communities and state.

Tourism Imdustry Strong in 2008, But Economic Downturn and Legislative Proposals Could Dampen Future Growth - 5/09

The Wisconsin Tourism recently reported that travelers spent an estimated $13 billion in Wisconsin during 2008, up nearly 3 percent from the prior year. Those expenditures generated more than 310,000 jobs and $2 billion in state and local taxes. It was a good year. However, continuing that economic success in 2009 could be difficult due to the economic downturn and if certain proposals pending in the Legislature become law.

The Department of Tourism's budget is facing significant cuts as lawmakers try to find ways to make up a $6.6 billion budget deficit. This comes at a time when neighboring states of Illinois and Michigan are spending three times or more on tourism marketing and trying to sway traditional Wisconsin vacationers to their states this summer. Another state budget provision - the joint and several liability cap provision - could significantly raise insurance rates for tourism attractions and businesses plus increase litigation risks during a weak economy. Senate Bill 1, if passed, would increase Wisconsin's minimum wage level above the federal level which is set to increase this July. In addition, it would also increase the minimum wage every year, tied to the consumer price index. This would also place Wisconsin at a competitive disadvantage to its neighboring states. Senate Bill 109 and the companion bill, Assembly Bill 125, could hurt future Wisconsin summer tourism seasons if passed. While there isn't any compelling educational reason to do so, the bills would allow k-12 schools to start school during the prime travel and weather month of August. In 2008, travelers spent $350 million more in August than June.

Like other economic sectors, the Wisconsin tourism industry is facing difficult times. Reports across the state are that leisure and business travel is down. However, the summer travel season has just kicked off and Wisconsin's tourism industry is hopeful that travelers will not scrap their vacations due to the bad economy and instead will take them closer to home. With the metropolitan areas of Chicago and Minneapolis on our door step and millions of potential Wisconsinites vacationing in their home state, we could have a good travel season. Let's hope for a great summer tourism season and that legislative roadblocks will not be placed in the way of making Wisconsin's tourism industry competitive.

September 1 School Start Date Good for Families and Wisconsin's Economy - 3/09

A consistent school start date is in the best interest of Wisconsin families and Wisconsin's economy. The September 1 school start date law has meant more valuable vacation time for familities, more tax revenues for the state and our communities and more employment opportunities for our high school students.

Surveys have shown that parents overwhelmingly support the September 1 school start date. Families want to vacation together and the good weather and warm water makes late August an ideal time for family vacations in Wisconsin. It is a reality of modern family life that the last two weeks of August may present the one-and-only opportunity for families to spend quality time together during a planned-for getaway. Tourism during the last two weeks of August returns added tax revenue to fund schools. In the past two years, travelers spent an estimated $300-350 million more in August than in June statewide, according to the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. The labor pool that also relies on income from these last weeks of August. In many cases, these employees are high school students who will use that income toward their post-high school education.

Public schools in the city of Chicago, Minneapolis and St. Paul typically begin school in September. These areas are strong markets for the Wisconsin Tourism economy in late August and we need to ensure our hospitality industry has the employees to meet this customer demand. Minnesota and Michigan have a post-Labor Day school start date and in fact, the Minnesota State Legislature just defeated a bill in committee that would have repealed that state’s post-Labor Day start. Local school boards and districts still have flexibility to set their school calendar; selecting holiday breaks, staff development days and making up snow days. Some school districts in Wisconsin manage to finish in early June while others finish in mid-June which demonstrates the flexibility each district has.

There is not a justifiable reason for repealing Wisconsin's September 1 school start date. There is no evidence that it has impacted student performance and it would lead to less revenue for Wisconsin businesses and less income for employees already hurting from the economic recession.

Spending Local Room Tax Revenue Correctly Can Bring Economic Boost to WI Communities - 2/09

According to a recent report by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, 225 Wisconsin municipalities collected a room tax paid by travelers staying overnight at lodging properties throughout our state in 2006. In that year, the tax generated more than $60 million in revenue. While Room Tax is not appropriate in all communities, for many, the revenue invested in tourism promotion generates more revenue for the local economy.

Many communities spend the majority of the room tax collected for tourism promotion and development, as directed by the state's room tax law, and abiding by the law's original intent. The law states that municipalities must spend at least 70 percent of room tax revenue collected on tourism promotion and development which is defined as marketing projects, tourist information services and municipal development that are significantly used by tourists and reasonably likely to generate overnight stays at lodging properties. There are a few municiplaties that have historically spent less than 70% on tourism promotion and development due to a grandfather provision in the law.

It makes good economic sense for municipalities to invest room tax dollars into tourism promotion and development. In the Fox Cities, a portion of the room tax was invested in the construction of a major youth sports complex with the requirement that the complex owners host and bid on sport tournaments. The Fox Cities CVB began marketing the facility to tournament organizers and have successfully brought many tournaments to the area, including the US Youth Region II Soccer Championship which generated 11,000 room nights in area hotels. In Madison, the Greater Madison CVB used room tax dollars to match a grant from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism for marketing the city as a meetings and convention destination. The bureau booked nine conventions that generated $2.7 million for the community and many hotel stays. Statewide, travelers spent $13 billion last year, generating more than $2 billion in state and local taxes plus 300,000 full-time equivalent jobs.

Certainly, the investment of room tax revenue into tourism promotion and development plays a important role in generating strong economic impact for our municipalities and the state.

Meetings and Convention Spending Grows in 2007 - 6/08

Investments in meeting and convention facilities across Wisconsin as well as other factors helped fuel more spending last year by travelers attending meetings and convention in the state. According to the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Traveler Expenditure Study, meetings and convention travelers spent an estimated $1.36 billion in Wisconsin last year, up nearly 6 percent from 2006. This spending generated an estimated $227 million in local and state government taxes and fees.

In the last few years, there have been significant expansions and renovations in Wisconsin meeting and convention space. Just a few examples are Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells, The Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake, Lake Lawn Resort on Lake Delavan, Bridgewood Resort Hotel in Neenah, Sheraton Milwaukee Brookfield Hotel in Brookfield and the Country Springs Hotels in Waukesha and Stevens Point. The infrastructure investment combined with warm hospitality, good value and strong marketing efforts by convention and visitors bureaus and meeting facilities have led to the growth in Wisconsin's meetings and convention sector.

Overall, meetings and convention spending is 11% of the $12.8 billion spent by travelers in the state last year. Most people (70%) were traveling in Wisconsin for leisure purposes and 19% were traveling on business trips other than a meeting or convention. Meetings and conventions are beneficial not only to the host facility, but the city and state hosting the convention. Delegates spend money on food, hotel and entertainment, and yes, even local and state taxes which pumps the state’s economy. Hosting out-of-state attendees also gives the city the opportunity to show off everything it has to offer in hopes they will visit our state again.

Hollywood's Bright Lights Bringing Big Bucks to Wisconsin -4/08

Wisconsin is rolling out the red carpet for Hollywood this spring for the film "Public enemies" and for good reason, they are spending lots of money here. The film, starring Johnny Depp and directed by UW alumnus Michael Mann, began shooting in Columbus and Darlington last month and filmed in Oshkosh, Milwaukee, Madison, Manitowish Water and perhaps other locations. The "Public Enemies" production company estimates that it will spend nearly $20 million in the state when filming wraps up in late spring or early summer. Already, cash registers have rung up lots of cash in Columbus. Mayor Nancy Osterhaus estimates that the film brought in more than $350,000 during a week of shooting in late March. Tourism officials in Oshkosh, the Fox cities and Minocqua area report that the production company has booked hundreds of hotel rooms, all during the off-peak season for their lodging properties. "Public Enemies" is the first major production to come to Wisconsin since new tax incentives for the film, television and video gaming industry took effect in January. Film Wisconsin, the statewide organization charged with marketing the state to the film, television and video gaming industry is confident that the incentives along with Wisconsin's locations and talent can help bring many more large and small film and video projects to Wisconsin. Public Enemies is a terrific example of how Wisconsin is beocoming the "new, affordable film-friendly" third coast.

Packers and other Pro Teams Generate Millions for Wisconsin - 2/08

Wisconsin residents still lamenting that the Green Bay Packers did not quite make the Super Bowl this year should take heart that our beloved green and gold generate big bucks for tourism in Green bay and throughout northeastern wisconsin. The Packer Country Visitor and Convention Bureau estimates that fan spending exceeds $36 million a season. Packer fans also spend money in Green Bay during the off-season, visiting Lambeau Field and other area attractions. Training camp alone generated an estimated $57 million in economic impact and attracted 115,000 fans last summer. Other professional teams in Wisconsin also bring in tourism dollars. While economic impact estimates are not available, the Milwaukee Brewers estimate that 40 percent of their fans come from outside Southeastern Wisconsin. These fans are more likely to spend money on lodging, food, gas, entertainment, and shopping while traveling to and visiting Miller Park. Visit Milwaukee reports that this is especially true when the Brewers play the Chicago Cubs, Minnesota Twins and the St. Louis Cardinals where fans travel to cheer on their team in Milwaukee. In addition to the economic benefits, professional sports teams also help put destinations on the map through national and, sometimes, international media exposure. The teams also add to the diversity of a destination's tourism product, giving visitors more reason to come and experience a destination whether for vacation or business.

Culinary Tourism Cooking Up Business in Wisconsin - 12/07

Culinary travel is one of the hottest travel trends and Wisconsin's tourism industry is taking full advantage. According to a 2007 Travel Industry of America study, 27 million travelers engaged in culinary or wine-related activities while traveling within the past three years. And, 60% more U.S. leisure travelers are interested in culinary travel in the near future than those currently engaged in the activity. In Wisconsin, many destinations have zeroed in on the trend with strong returns. At least 20 restaurants, resorts and attractions across the state offering cooking classes and events. Wisconsin is also home to more than 30 wineries, most offering tours and tastings. More than 30 cheese factories offer tours or observation windows and about 20 breweries and brewpubs have tours or tastings. All this cooking and tasting does more than satisfy palettes and appetites, it also rings cash registers. Destination Kohler's Food and Wine Experience, held in late October for the past 5 years, has filled the American Club Resort during a traditionally slow time and has led to 10-15% increase in sales at the Destination's Shops of WoodLake. Door county's "Kingdom so Delicious" promotion helped to bring an estimated $7.9 million in travel expenditures to the county in 2005. Lake Geneva sponsored it's first Wine Festival this past September and estimate that the event brought more than $600,000 in traveler spending to the region. The Pig in the Pines Rib Fest in St. Germain is only a three-year old event and is bringing an 10,000 participants and nearly $300,000 to the region. Overall travelers to Wisconsin spent an estimated $3.3 billion on food purchases and another $400 million on beer, wine and other spirits in 2006 (Source: WI Dept. of Tourism).

Wisconsin Tourism Going Green - 10/07

More than 100 Wisconsin businesses and organizations are taking part in the nation's first eco-tourism certification program called Travel Green Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Department of Tourism and the Wisconsin Environmental Initiative kicked off Travel Green Wisconsin about a year ago and it is gaining more participants each week, as well as such media attention as USA Today and The New York Times. Certified organizations range from Convention Centers, lodging properties, restaurants, convention & visitors bureaus, attractions, parks and retail outlets. Monona Terrace Convention Center in Madison, the Pinehurst Inn in Bayfield, Horicon Marsh Boat Tours in Horicon, Stevens Point Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee are just some of the many businesses and organizations participating in the program and working to protect the environment. Travel Green Wisconsin is a voluntary program that reviews, certifies,and recognizes tourism businesses that have made a commitment to continuously improve their operations in order to reduce their environmental impact. It is designed to support the Wisconsin tourism brand, give the state and hospitality business participants a marketing edge, promote smart business practices, reduce costs, educate travelers, and protect the Wisconsin's landscape. A recent Travel Industry of America (TIA) survey substantiates that the Travel Green program may benefit Wisconsin's tourism economy as more travelers become environmentally concious. The survey reported that more than half of all U.S. adults say they would be more likely to select a hotel, airline or rental car that uses more environmentally friendly products and processes and eight out of ten respondents consider themselves "environmentally conscious". For more information about Travel Green Wisconsin, visit

Putting the “Tour” in Wisconsin Tourism - 8/07

Wisconsin tourism is more than beautiful scenery, engaging history,community events, and a full spectrum of arts offerings. Tourists also are fascinated with the industries that are home in Wisconsin. The Jelly Belly distribution center in Pleasant Prairie offers visitors samples ofmore than 100 different flavors of jelly beans, it is no surprise that 200,000 candy-enthusiasts visit each year. Free samples draw visitors to another type of Wisconsin industry tour:breweries. The Miller Brewing Plant tour in Milwaukee draws in 300 to 1,000 beer aficionados daily, making it the most visited brewery in Wisconsin. Football fans often make the trip to Green Bay to tour one of the most renowned sporting-arenas in the nation: Lambeau Field. Summer training camp alone draws more than 100,000 attendees and an estimated $66 million to the area, according to th Packer Country Visitor and Convention Bureau estimates that summer practices alone bring in $66 million to the area. Another sporting-industry stop is the Trek Bicycle factory in Waterloo. Visitors can see the entire bicycle construction process, as well as models of world-famous bikes. More than 22,000 Harley Davidson motorcycle devotees from all over the world come to the Harley Davidson motorcyclefactory each year and watch the action on the Harley assembly line. And, , 14,000 guests per year tour the the General Motors factory in Janesville. The GM Factory tour highlights more than 600 robots involved in the assembly of sport utility vehicles. From candy to cars, touring the State’s industries is a significant contributor to Wisconsin’s tourism economy.

A Hole in One for Wisconsin Tourism - 07/07

Warm weather in the Midwest means prime golfing season for Wisconsin's more than 500 golf courses, including 400 public courses and dozens of PGA-caliber courses. According to the National Golf Foundation, golfers spent a total of $70 billion nationwide in 2002 on golf equipment, travel and course fees. In addition, the NGF reports that Midwestern markets have the highest percentage of golfing households in the country. Golf is a favorite vacation activity. According to the Travel Industry of America, 55 percent of travelers said they played golf on vacation and 16% said it was the most important reason for traveling. Wisconsin is in the perfect position to tap into the golfing tourism market, and many courses already have. Whistling Straits, which was named No. 2 in the list of the “Top 100 Golf Resorts” by Traveler Magazine, has hosted two major professional golf tournaments in the last few years. Earlier this month, the U.S. Senior Open Championship drew about 118,000 fans and generated an estimated $20 million for Wisconsin’s economy. In 2004, the PGA Championship brought in more than 300,000 fans and $76 million for Wisconsin’s economy. Other courses attract visitors even when if they do not host a national tournament. For example, Apostle Highlands in Bayfield is known for its scenic vistas of Lake Superior and The Bull at Pinehurst, the state’s only Jack Nicklaus Signature Course was named the No. 2 best new upscale public course in the country by Golf Digest.

Angling for Tourism Dollars - 6/07

Tourists and anglers are drawn to Wisconsin lakes like a fish to water. It’s no wonder, with more than 15,000 lakes, 40,000 miles of rivers and two Great Lakes, fishing in Wisconsin is unlike anywhere else in the country. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources typically sells 1.4 million fishing licenses during the regular fishing season, ranking as the sixth state nationally in total number of licenses sold. Each year, more than 61 million fish are caught, making for many a tasty fish fry. In comparison with other states, Wisconsin ranks second in the number of non-residents who visit the state for fishing. Trips include meals, overnight stays and supplies. According to the Department of Tourism, 13 to 14 percent of visitors come to the state to fish or motorboat on Wisconsin’s lakes. This generates $1.2 billion in retail sales and $90 million in tax revenue. And, fishing is a $2.3 billion dollar industry that supports at least 26,000 jobs in Wisconsin. The state even boasts the Musky Capital of the World in Boulder Junction, and a four-and-a-half story tall fiberglass musky located at the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame and Museum in Hayward, Wisconsin. Wisconsin also plays host to many popular sport-fishing tournaments, such as the Big Fish Bash on Lake Michigan. Known as the world’s largest freshwater fishing tournament, the event draws nearly 2,500 fishermen from 26 states each year. Wherever you travel in Wisconsin this summer, you will find both residents and non-residents enjoying one of the oldest and most popular outdoor activities: fishing.

Tourism blossoms in Spring - 5/07

Spring-time in Wisconsin brings tourism into full bloom as visitors stop to smell the roses – and other local flowers. According to the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, nature or wildlife watching is one of the top 10 most popular activities to do on a Wisconsin vacation. In addition, nationally, one-fifth of U.S. residents went on a garden tour or participated in another garden-related activity on vacations in the past five years. One of the popular garden sites in the state is the University of Wisconsin Arboretum, where visitors can take tours from UW professors and naturalists to learn about their favorite flowers. Not long after in June, the city of Kenosha hosts its Bloomin’ Days festival, celebrating the arrival of summer. Visitors can buy flowers, take a streetcar ride, or visit local food tents. Even up north, Wisconsinites and visitors celebrate the glory of spring at the Bayfield in Bloom festival. This month-long celebration boasts 14,000 daffodils blooming each May, complete with garden walks and a variety of “ask the experts” sessions for new gardeners. Another gardener’s paradise is Boerner Botanical Gardens, known as Milwaukee’s “Living Museum.” Featured in Martha Stewart Living Magazine, Boerner features a variety of gardens and each year host approximately 200,000 visitors for events. One place where the seasons never change is the Mitchell Park Conservatory, or “the domes.” Each dome-shaped greenhouse features a different garden setting: a desert dome, a tropical dome, and a floral dome highlighting unique plants in each one. The conservatory draws 175,000 to 190,000 people annually and hosts events such as the New Years’ Celebration during the winter and the Desert Nights show in the summer. No matter where you go in Wisconsin, fresh spring garden colors bring a smile to every visitor’s face.

Off-Road Adventures: Bicycle Touring in Wisconsin - 4/07

With a network of over 3,000 miles of trails suitable for all kinds of cycling, Wisconsin has plenty to offer both the amateur cyclist as well as the expert rider.The past few decades have seen an upsurge in cycling trips, especially because abandoned railroad tracks have been converted into biking and running trails. According to the Travel Industry of America, biking trips are very popular outdoor vacations, ranking third only to camping and hiking. According to the Department of Tourism, most bikers are non-locals and 77 percent stay overnight at their cycling destinations. They spend an average of $26 per day as they visit area attractions, restaurants, and shops. Hailed as the nation’s largest one-day bike fest, the Miller Lite Ride for the Arts held in Milwaukee each June has seen more than 230,000 participants over the years since it began in 1981. As one of the oldest paths in Wisconsin, the Elroy-Sparta State Trail was the first trail in the country to switch from railroad tracks to bike trail. The trail connects with the Hillsboro and Omaha routes to make up the 400 State Trail, popular for perfect Wisconsin vistas. Another area for bikers to see the scenery is along Lake Superior. on the “Around the Horn Tour” through cities such as Washburn, Bayfield and Cornucopia. For an even more challenging route, visitors head to Mount Horeb in June for the Horribly Hilly Hundred, a race of 100 to 200 kilometers through valleys and hills. Even though riders of all shapes and sizes bike through Wisconsin, they all get the chance to tour winding trails, lush forests, and beautiful scenery that only this state has to offer.

Homing In on Wisconsin’s History - 3/07

History continues to be a lesson many Wisconsin visitors want to learn. From museums to historic sites, there are places all over the map for visitors to take a trip into the state’s past. According to the Department of Tourism, visitors looking to tour historic sites generally travel in groups of four people, and 60 percent require overnight accommodations. On average a “historic” visitor will spend $42 per day, including food, shopping, and touring other museums. Nationally, more than half of the adult population who traveled in 2002 included at least one historic activity on the trip. And, four in ten adults visited an official historic site including buildings, landmarks, and homes.

Located in Milwaukee is the “Jewel of Grand Avenue” or the mansion of beer baron Captain Frederick Pabst built in 1892. An estimated 30,000 visitors tour the Flemish Renaissance house and attend events such as the mansion’s Oktoberfest and Christmas celebrations. Built in the 19th century is historic Villa Louis in Praire du Chien which hosts the “Carriage Classic” in September and the War of 1812 weekend featuring a battle re -enactment in mid-July. To visit another war, the Wade House in Greenbush hosts Civil War Weekend every September and an 1860s style baseball game throughout the summer. . From Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River, and from Lake Superior to the state line, distinctive homes all over the state lure visitors to our state to experience Wisconsin’s history first-hand.

Where Outdoor Fun Takes Flight - 2/07

Wisconsin provides wonderful bird watching opportunities as it is home to hundreds of local and migratory species. In 2001, the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation showed that birding is the most popular wildlife watching activity. The survey also found that Wisconsin had the third highest participation of all 50 states, totaling 3.1 million people observing wildlife.

With that many people in the outdoors, it is no wonder birding is a key part of the tourism industry. In Wisconsin the overall economic impact in 2001 amounted to $1.3 billion including equipment and other trip-related costs. Of that amount, visitors spent $152 million on food and lodging and $78 million on transportation. Over the past 10 years, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has put together several different nature trails, collectively called the “Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail,” that highlights various wildlife sites around the state. Also in the spring, birders celebrate International Migratory Bird Day on May 13 by hosting events for visitors in every state. Wisconsin alone hosted 19 events in 2005.

Birding in Wisconsin offers year-round entertainment. And, with such a variety of birds and habitats, it is no wonder Wisconsin is a top choice for travelers who enjoy the outdoors.

The Bread and Butter of Wisconsin - 1/07

No matter what time of year, people come to visit the heart of Wisconsin: its dairy farms and products. Whether it is a cool sundae, or cheese curds at a farmer’s market, the dairy state continues to live up to its name for visitors and Wisconsinites alike.

Many visit Two Rivers where the New York Times and USA Today agreed the first ice cream sundae was served 125 years ago. Decades later, the popular treat still brings in 15,000 guests annually to the small town of 13,000. Listed as one of the top 100 events in North America by the American Business Association, Green County’s “Cheese Days” highlights the dairy tradition with other events such as the world’s largest cheese fondue and the cow milking contest. Visitors spent nearly $430,000 at restaurants, bars and food stands at Cheese Days in 2005.

Since Wisconsin has more licensed cheese-makers than any other state and produces 2 billion pounds of it annually, it is no wonder travelers come for the cheese. The Department of Tourism found that when shopping, 49 percent of travelers bought souvenirs and 41 percent purchased specialty food items such as local dairy treats. Wisconsin is home to 1.3 million dairy cows - more than the amount of school-aged children in the state - so,it is no surprise these bovines attract attention as well. Each year, Sauk Prairie hosts the Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throw and Festival, drawing 40,000 spectators. All year long visitors stop to enjoy America's Dairyland. And, no matter how many cheeses or cows the state has, tourism helps keep the dairy tradition alive.

Embracing the Cold with Local Winter Spirit - 12/06

Year round Wisconsin visitors travel to attend one of the state’s many local festivals. And while festivals take place in every season during the year, the winter festivals are uniquely appealing. The Wisconsin Department of Tourism has found that visitors choose the winter months for more spur-of-the-moment trips. Winter travelers said the fifth most important activity on their trip was to attend a local festival at their destination. The top four other choices included skiing, shopping and visiting family or friends.

Eagle River Klondike Days, voted Wisconsin’s top winter festival,is held each year in February, and hosts weekend crowds of nearly 20,000 visitors. From its first year in 1980, the festival has paid homage to Eagle River’s Native American and Voyageur heritage with events such as a chainsaw carving competition, the dog weight pull and the only winter lumberjack competition in the Midwest. Bayfield holds the Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race in early February, one of the most popular free festivals in Wisconsin, hosting more than 100 racing teams and at least 700 dogs. Even sled dog teams training for the Iditarod come to Bayfield to race along Lake Superior. Nationally, the Travel Industry of America found that one-fifth of adults attended a festival while traveling away from home in the past year, equaling 31 million people. And, they do not just come for an afternoon, most stay over night for a relaxing weekend getaway. The Department of Tourism reported that 57 percent of travelers spent at least one night where they visited. Whether they stayed in large hotels or cozy bed and breakfasts, most enjoyed at least a few days of winter fun. Wisconsinites embrace the cold and offer a variety of festivals every winter. Visit Lake Geneva for “Winterfest” and the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Competition to try your hand at snow sculpting or take a helicopter ride. Or, visit to the Dells for the “Flake Out Festival” at the end of January to see tricycle races, a snowman making competition and winter fireworks. With so many festivals to choose from, it is hard not to love winter in Wisconsin.

On the Hunt for Tourism -11/06

As temperatures drop and snow starts to fly, Wisconsin visitors and residents don their coats and hats to beat the cold. But many sports enthusiasts put on their blaze orange, ready for one of Wisconsin’s most popular pastimes, hunting. According to the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, 40 percent of the state is made up of forestland for hunters to forage. Visitors from other states, as well as in-state, contribute to the sport’s popularity.

With local hunters averaging nine million days in the field each season, it is no wonder Wisconsin is well-known for the hunt. The Association of Wildlife Agencies has found that hunters are responsible for approximately $960 million nation-wide in retail sales. After all of the expenses from a trip, hunters nationally contribute $1.8 billion of tourism’s yearly economic impact. And they do not travel alone. The Department of Tourism said local hunters average three people per group and groups traveling to hunt from other counties average four people. Non-local hunters also spent nearly 50 percent more per day than those who were local to the area due to costs for lodging, food and transportation. The Department of Natural Resources allows hunting for big game, such as deer and bear, and smaller game such as turkey, ducks and geese. Deer is one of the more popular big game animals to hunt, especially because of the high success rate in the state. According to the DNR, Wisconsin has the highest single -year deer harvest and has been the number one deer harvest state for the past 10 years. For many generations before us, the state has had a long tradition of hunting year-round. Wisconsin hunting has supported tourism and will continue to do so into Wisconsin’s future.

Raking in the Money: Autumn Tourism - 10/06

Red, orange, yellow- these are the colors often associated with autumn. However, Wisconsin’s fall season can boast of an additional color - green, in the form of tourist dollars. Throughout the season tourists take advantage of the season by enjoying country drives, visiting local pumpkin or apple farms, and attending various community festivals. Travelers seeking peak colors distribute tourist dollars to hotels and inns, gas retailers, restaurants and mom-and-pop stores. This spending adds up quickly. In the 2005 fall season tourists spent 1.6 percent more than the previous year, bringing in a whopping $2.8 billion.

In addition to spending money at local merchants, tourists make stops at a variety of other attractions. Throughout Wisconsin, families have opened their farms for visitors to enjoy tours, purchase food, and buy arts and crafts. All areas of the state can boast dozens of such attractions, for instance, The Little Farmer in Fond du Lac County, The Tree Farm in Dane County, Maiden Rock Apples in Pepin County and Lautenbach's Orchard Country Winery & Market in Door County. During the fall there are also dozens of local corn festivals, farmers markets and hay rides. These events are not only enjoyed by those living in the nearby area. Surveyed travelers mentioned public festivals and events 29% of the time as the top reason they chose their destination.

The lure of the season is not lost upon those promoting Wisconsin tourism. The Department of Tourism is capitalizing on the fall season by using media to lure travelers with the state’s fall colors and local food and events. Throughout Wisconsin and neighboring states, television, radio and print ads are used to showcase the season.
So the next time you sigh in frustration after an afternoon of raking leaves, remember that the foliage also makes Wisconsin a beautiful and profitable tourism destination.

A Simple Life Makes Cents - 9/06

Travelers spend $150 million annually visiting historic sites around Wisconsin. Area businesses benefit from Wisconsin’s historic travelers. According to an extensive survey done by the Wisconsin Historical Society, over half (53%) of the visitors dine in local restaurants. Additionally, 41% of visitors shopped at local stores, 33% visited other attractions and 14% toured other area museums. On average, a historic visitor spends $42 per day.

Old World Wisconsin in Eagle welcomes bus loads of people daily to visit its 65 historic structures. The vast 576 – acre complex is the largest museum of rural life in the United States and has approximately 90,000 visitors annually. Another historic site that is popular among historic site visitors is Villa Louis, a Victorian country estate in Prairie du Chien. In addition to daily tours of the hilltop mansion, Villa Louis also hosts several events including a reenactment of the Battle of Prairie du Chien and the Villa Louis Carriage Classic, a major carriage driving competition held each September. A dirtier side of Wisconsin’s history lives on at Mineral Point’s Pendarvis, home of a Cornish lead mining colony. Six restored stone and log homes are furnished with an extensive collection of furniture, tools and artifacts dating back to the 1830s.

Preserving Wisconsin’s history through living museums is beneficial for all involved – it offers visitors an exciting way to learn about the State’s past and a unique source of revenue for local communities.

Wisconsin's Maritime History is a Tourism Treasure - 7/06

Bordered by two Great Lakes, Wisconsin is a premier maritime destination. Lakeshore communities benefit greatly from visitors interested in Wisconsin’s maritime heritage. From ship festivals to wreck dives, visitors are drawn to a variety of activities that celebrate the State’s most treasured ships.

Manitowoc, the “Maritime Capitol of Wisconsin,” offers visitors the chance to sail Lake Michigan on the SS Badger, and learn about the Great Lake’s history. It is the home of one of the most widely recognized maritime museumswith over 40,000 visitors annually. Another maritime attraction sure to attract visitors is the newly opened Pier Wisconsin in Milwaukee. It is the home port of Wisconsin’s “Flagship”, the Denis Sullivan. Pier Wisconsin, partnered with Discovery World, offers visitors the opportunity to learn more about marine life and navigation and expects to draw 350,000 visitors per year. This summer, Green Bay is on the maritime tourism map as host of the International Tall Ships Race Series. A fleet of 16 ships are showcased during the four-day Baylake Bank Tall Ship festival drawing over 50,000 visitors and creating an economic impact of $2.2 million. For the ultimate hands-on experience, the most adventurous visitors are donning an oxygen tank and wetsuit to explore shipwrecks in their water graves. Divers say the Great Lakes offer some of the best shipwreck diving sites in the world. The average diver spends about $300 per trip on food, lodging and supplies – which means additional revenue for the lakeshore community.

Visitors, young and old, adventurous or timid are fascinated by the hidden history of Wisconsin’s rich maritime past. Lakeshore communities are a treasured tourist destination – and have the gold to prove it.

“Cah – Ching” Music To Our Ears - 6/06

Crickets are not the only sound of summer in Wisconsin. Nearly every weekend in June, July and August, there is a Wisconsin community hosting a music festival.

It is hard to talk about music festivals in Wisconsin and not mention the “world’s largest music festival” that takes place on Milwaukee’s lakefront. Summerfest is an 11- day music festival featuring 700 performances on 11 stages. Last year, over 900,000 people attended Summerfest - spending over $10 million on tickets, food and beverages. Country USA in Oshkosh is one of America’s largest outdoor country music festivals. Last year, over 162,000 people donned a cowboy hat and attended this five-day festival, generating $22 million in economic impact annually. Even Wisconsin's official dance, the polka, is celebrated annually by over 51 festivals across the state. One of the largest is the Pulaski Polka Days which draws over 22,000 people to dance to the top polka bands from across the country.

People travel far - and open their wallets wide - to enjoy their favorite music. This generates celebrity and cash for local communities – and that is something to sing about.

Fishing Reels in the Cash - 5/06

Fishing is one of America’s favorite pastimes. Wisconsin’s abundant water resources make it a premier fishing destination. The state boasts over 15,000 lakes, 40,000 miles of streams and rivers and two Great Lakes. The longstanding fishing tradition in Wisconsin annually contributes $2.3 billion in economic impact.

Annually, anglers spend 22 million days fishing in Wisconsin. Wisconsin ranks second in the number of non-residents who travel to the state to fish. A fishing trip may entail a stop at a bait shop, a meal at a restaurant, and an overnight stay at a hotel or campground. All of these activities generate $1.2 billion in retail sales and $90 million in tax revenue for state and local governments.

Out-of-state and in-state residents buy 1.4 million fishing licenses and catch nearly 69 million fish. Wisconsin ranks fifth in the country for number of fishing licenses sold. The number of licenses sold in Wisconsin remains stable, while nationally sales are declining.

Expanding Minds Enriches Economy - 4/06

For many travelers, activities that fill their vacation are not limited to just amusement parks and shopping centers. Believe it or not, travelers enjoy learning while on vacation. Thirty-eight percent of travelers in Wisconsin visit a museum during their stay. In 2004, travelers spent over $146 million in Wisconsin on historic activities, including museums.

Travelers will soon have more museums to choose from. New museums are opening up all over Wisconsin. Some are getting national press coverage such as the Harley-Davidson museum. The museum is scheduled to open in the summer of 2008 to commemorate Harley’s 105 birthday. It is expected to attract travelers from around the world and generate $39 million annually in economic impact. Milwaukee’s lakefront soon will boast another state-of-the-art museum. Located near the Milwaukee Art Museum, Pier Wisconsin will house an expanded Discovery World and Wisconsin’s flagship schooner, the Dennis Sullivan. With over 200 interactive exhibits, Pier Wisconsin is projected to draw over 350,000 visitors each year. Another museum travelers will be enticed to visit is the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMoCA). As the much anticipated second part of the Overture Center, MMoCA opened this month. Its award winning Museum Store, world-class artists, and unique rooftop sculpture garden will make it a popular destination in Madison. The quirky Mount Horeb Mustard Museum gets national buzz for its record breaking mustard collection and fun gift shop. Travelers spend as much time perusing the gift shop as they do in the museum.

Renowned artists, one-of-a-kind artifacts and kitschy collections all help make Wisconsin museums some of the finest in the country.

Racing for Tourism Dollars - 3/06

Once considered a “gear head’s” spectator sport, auto racing’s popularity has skyrocketed in recent years and now appeals to a much wider audience. The popularity of auto racing has people traveling across Wisconsin for the noise, thrill and excitement of a race.

Wisconsin boasts the first operating motor speedway in the world. Since opening its doors in 1903, the Milwaukee Mile has consistently rated as one of the premier venues in motor sports. Last year, the Milwaukee Mile held four nationally aired events including the Indy Racing League, the United States Auto Club, ARCA, and the Champ Car World Series. Spectators seeking the thrill of an off-road auto race, travel to the small town of Crandon. The Crandon Off-Road Race Track is one of less than a handful of off-road racing facilities in the U.S. It draws the largest crowd in off-road racing when it hosts the World Championship in September, attracting over 60,000 that weekend. Another small town that has generated a big name for itself in the racing world is Elkhart Lake. Home to the Road America track, Elkhart Lake is popular among race enthusiasts. Nearly 750,000 spectators enjoy races at the track each year and spend nearly $53 million in the area.

Wisconsin winters do not make for ideal auto racing conditions; but a foot of snow makes for perfect snowmobiling conditions. Eagle River gets national attention for hosting an annual snowmobile derby. Over 25,000 spectators travel to northern Wisconsin to be part of this 43-year-old tradition.

In the race for dollars, local Wisconsin communities lap the field by taking advantage of racing's growing popularity.

Wisconsin’s Olympic Investment Pays Back - 2/06

This month, the top athletes in the world compete for the highly coveted Olympic gold medal. Before athletes qualify for the Olympics, they must train and compete at the local level. Wisconsin’s world class training facilities and Olympic trial events have attracted athletes from around the country to the state. Sporting events play a significant role in Wisconsin’s tourism industry. In 2004, $473 million dollars was spent in the state on sports tourism.

Last February, Wisconsin hosted the Olympic curling trials. Both men’s and women’s curling teams from throughout the country traveled to Madison for the honor of representing the United States in the Olympics. The trials were held over seven days, generating overnight stays for athletes and spectators. It is hard to talk about the Winter Olympics and Wisconsin without mentioning the Pettit National Ice Center. The facility is one of only two Olympic-sized indoor speedskating ovals in the country and has produced 26 Olympic medalists. The rink hosts several national competitions throughout the year.

Wisconsin also has great sporting facilities for athletes not heading to Torino but who love winter sports. Youth hockey tournaments are becoming a major part of Wisconsin’s winter recreational landscape. An average hockey family spends about $450 per weekend while traveling to out-of-town tournaments. La Crosse adds $700,000 annually to its economy by hosting youth hockey tournaments. Wausau also enjoys the benefits of winter sports by hosting the Badger State Winter Games, the nation’s largest Olympic-style sports festival. Hotels and Restaurants in Wausau and area communities were booked for two weeks solid to accommodate thousands of athletes and spectators.

While the Olympics were held across the ocean in Italy, the spirit of the Olympics can be seen on ice rinks and snow slopes right here in Wisconsin. The state sees gold by having world-class training facilities and hosting amateur sporting events.

Therapy Showers Bring Tourism Dollars - 1/06

When it is time plan a vacation, a getaway offering relaxing spa services is a welcomed alternative to hectic schedules. Spas have become increasingly popular in recent years. According to the International Spa Association, spa visits in the United States have increased almost 70 percent between 1991 and 2001 and spa revenue has more than doubled during that time. The spa industry is currently the fourth largest leisure industry in the United States, generating over $11.2 billion nationally. Wisconsin has tapped into this profitable industry, boasting several nationally acclaimed spas.

According to Spa Finder, a top trend in spas for 2006 is the incorporation of water into its treatments. No other spa is better suited to stay on top of the trend than Kohler Waters Spa at the American Club Resort. Known for its signature water treatments and impeccable service, the Kohler Waters Spa draws travelers from across the country and has earned numerous awards for being one of the best spas in North America.
Another highly rated spa in Wisconsin is Sundara Spa near Wisconsin Dells. Sundara has been publicized in numerous national publications such as the New York Times, Food & Wine, Redbook, and the Wall Street Journal. Set among the pine trees, its focus on nature and serenity attracts visitors from throughout the Midwest to enjoy a quiet break from the hustle and bustle of city life.

When it comes to spas, as the water flows into Vicchy showers, money flows into the economy. The health and wellness benefits of a spa make it a guiltless indulgence for the traveler while boosting the economy.

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Wisconsin’s Small Towns See Big Money - 12/05

The day after Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the month-long shopping marathon.
The average consumer will spend approximately $760 on gifts this holiday season. People seeking a relaxing shopping experience may spend it in Wisconsin’s small towns.

Eleven percent of winter travelers come to Wisconsin specifically to shop and these shoppers are not going for a quick trip to the store. These shoppers are going for the experience. They will eat at local restaurants and enjoy other activities in the community. They make a day or weekend out of the trip.

One community that attracts out-of-town shoppers to its unique stores is Hudson. As a popular day-trip for Minnesotans, 40 percent of Hudson’s retail business is from travelers.
Consistently ranked as a favorite small town getaway, Cedarburg has close to 200 visitors daily and thousands more during events. Shoppers in Cedarburg often make a stop at Cedar Creek Winery to take a tour and sample some of its award-winning products. Not everyone shops for an experience. Some just want a good deal. Throughout Wisconsin, there are outlet malls to appeal which bargain hunters. Soon, a new outlet center can be added to the list. The Tanger Outlet Center, near the Wisconsin Dells, will be a 264,000-square-foot outlet mall housing 65 stores. The $19 million project, scheduled for completion next summer, is expected to generate more than 700 full- and part-time retail positions.

Wisconsin’s small-town appeal helps attract shoppers who want to find the perfect holiday gift without having to fight for the last X-Box 360.

Move Over Snowmobile, There May Be a New King of the Trail - 11/05

As the weather-dependent snowmobile is losing command of the trails, its year-round cousin, the all-terrain vehicle (ATV), is taking over. As of November 1, there were approximately 213,000 registered ATVs in Wisconsin, which is a 90 percent increase since 2000. During that same time, the number of registered snowmobiles has decreased by one percent.

Our state’s diverse terrain and ATV-friendly trails are quickly attracting attention from enthusiasts from around the country. An article in ATV Action said Wisconsin is an "undiscovered paradise" for four-wheeling. A survey conducted by the Department of Tourism in late 2003 found that the economic impact of ATVing totaled more than $295 million and 14 percent of ATVers are from out-of-state and alone spent nearly $35 million.

ATV users travel all over Wisconsin to enjoy over 5,500 miles of state trails. Throughout the year, ATV riders take an average of six ATV trips, with 62% being overnight stays for an average of three nights. Telemark Resort and Convention Center in Cable has realized the potential market in ATV riders offering room discounts and convenient access to local trails. ATVing also brings people to the state as a spectator sport. Wisconsin hosts several ATV Super Challenges during the year including one in Oconto County that drew over 3,500 people.

Snowmobiling is still a major economic engine for Wisconsin, generating almost $249.5 million in the winter of 2000-2001. However, snowmobiling’s dependency on the white stuff makes ATVing’s year-round potential a better bet for the green stuff.

Ag-tourism: A Cash Cow Worth Milking - 10/05
When one thinks of autumn in Wisconsin, chances are memories of corn mazes, apple picking and pumpkin hunting come to mind. The activities that are so much a part of autumn are also part of a growing industry called ag-tourism. Ag-tourism is a synergy of two of the top three industries in Wisconsin. Agriculture contributes $51.5 billion to Wisconsin’s economy each year, and tourism brings in $11.7 billion.

As an industry of its own, ag-tourism has seen tremendous growth. In recent years, the industry averaged a 30 percent annual increase, according to the Wisconsin Agriculture Tourism Association. Ag-tourism is more than visiting farms to pick apples and find pumpkins. Many weekend family trips fall into this unique tourism category. County fairs, farmer’s markets, winery tours, horse shows and agricultural conferences are just some of the ag-tourism activities.

One of the largest ag-tourism events Wisconsin hosts is the World Dairy Expo. Last year, the event generated $8.5 million to the state’s economy. Wisconsin leads the nation in cranberry production. To celebrate our state fruit, Warrens annually hosts the Warrens Cranberry Festival. Over 100,000 visitors come to the "Cranberry Capital of Wisconsin" for the event. Another ag-tourism activity many families enjoy is horseback riding. Wisconsin’s farming tradition is contributing to our economy in new and creative ways by providing family-oriented activities to the tourism mix.

Frank Lloyd Wright, The Quest for Utopia - 9/05

Frank Lloyd Wright, regarded as one of the greatest architects in history, attributed his love for nature and his quest for utopia to his youthful days spent running around the Wisconsin countryside. His Spring Green estate, Taliesin, was a life-long work in progress that represents each phase of his career.

Nestled in a hill surrounded by 600 acres of breathtaking landscape, Taliesin is as close to utopia as Wright could imagine. The estate is nationally acclaimed, featured in numerous magazine spreads, newspaper articles and television documentaries. The constant national media coverage draws close to 50,000 tourists each year, spending over $1.5 million on merchandise and tours. Another Wright "mecca" in Wisconsin is the S.C. Johnson Wax building. Since its opening on April 22, 1939, the building has attracted tourists, architects and Frank Lloyd Wright devotees from around the world. Out-of-state visitors coming to see Taliesin or the S.C. Johnson building don’t come all the way to Wisconsin just to see one building. These visitors are likely to make a vacation out of it; staying in area hotels, dining in area restaurants and shopping in area stores. All of these activities boost the local and state economy. Experiencing Wright’s mastery is not limited to taking tours. Two of his homes have been restored and opened as vacation homes. The Seth Peterson Cottage on Mirror Lake and the Schwartz House in Two Rivers attract travelers seeking a quiet, tranquil vacation. "A private little club", Frank Lloyd Wright said of the design. They are so popular, reservations are booked through 2007.

Frank Lloyd Wright has a loyal following of admirers from around the globe. His fans come to pay homage to his work, but leave with an understanding of why he loved Wisconsin, and why we love it too.

If They Nest Here, People Will Come - 8/05

Bird-watching is no longer just your uncle’s hobby. According to a study released in 2001 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 66 million Americans proudly assert their affection for wildlife viewing. Bird watching = money. The DNR estimates wildlife watchers in Wisconsin spent $1.3 billion on their hobby in 2001. Wisconsin boasts over 400 types of birds, making it a haven for "birders" and that is music to everyone’s ears. Bird watching is one of the fastest growing recreational activities, fueled by retiring baby-boomers seeking a relaxing pastime.

One of the places bird watchers visit is the International Crane Foundation (ICF) in Baraboo. The ICF is the only place in the world to see all 15 species of cranes – 11 of which are considered endangered species. No “birder’s” life is complete without a trip to the renowned Horicon Marsh. The marsh is best known for its migrant flocks of Canadian geese; however over 260 species of birds have been sighted in the marsh.

The DNR, along with numerous conservation associations, is creating five regional guides to the best places in Wisconsin to see birds. The guides help travelers create the ideal nature vacation, complete with lists of Chambers of Commerce, lodging and attraction information. The guides are so popular, a second printing has been scheduled to meet the overwhelming demand.

Bring in the Delegates, Bring in the Money -7/05

National conventions swept through Wisconsin this summer, leaving behind a trail of gold. Milwaukee and other cities throughout the state will see millions of dollars in economic impact for hosting major national conventions over the next few months.

Conventions are highly coveted by cities because of their incredible economic impact. On average, convention delegates spend more money than a typical traveler.According to the International Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus, a delegate attending a convention in a large city such as Milwaukee can be expected to spend $250 per day.

Milwaukee hosted the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP),the Gospel Music Workshop of America and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce this summer. The Milwaukee Convention & Visitors Bureau estimates the three conventions brought in 32,000 delegates from around the country, generating nearly $21 million in economic impact. Also this summer, Green Bay welcomed the National Novelty Salt and Pepper Shaker Collectors Club and 600 writers from across the country traveled to Madison for the Outdoor Writers of America (OWAA) conference.

National conventions are beneficial not only to the host city, but the entire state. Delegates spending money on food, hotel and entertainment, incur sales taxes which pumps the state’s economy. Hosting out-of-state delegates also gives the city the opportunity to show off everything it has to offer in hopes they will visit our state again.

A Taste of Door County - 6/05

In an effort to attract more overnight visitors, Door County launched a month-long celebration this June promoting its culture and cuisine. Titled “A Kingdom so Delicious,” the campaign entices the senses with all things indigenous to Door County. Events including fish broils, food demonstrations and wine tasting showcase the unique flavors of Door County. “A Kingdom So Delicious” also highlights the area’s artistic vibe through art classes, jazz concerts and original plays.

According to the Door County Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Bureau, Door County is one of the premier tourism destinations in the Midwest, attracting more than two million visitors per year. Door County tourism significantly contributes to Wisconsin’s economy. According to a 2003 Wisconsin Department of Tourism study, the Door County tourism industry produced over $394 million in tourism expenditures. This generated $36 million in state taxes and $20 million to local governments. One goal for the “Kingdom So Delicious” campaign is to increase the number of overnight stays, generating more economic impact per person.

Cashing in on the Melting Pot - 5/05

Every summer, many communities in Wisconsin celebrate their heritage by hosting ethnic festivals. Ethnic celebrations are more profitable than other festivals because they offer unique food and entertainment that attracts large crowds from outside the community. People are proud of their heritage and are willing to trek the extra miles, and spend the extra money, to celebrate it. It is impossible to talk about ethnic festivals in Wisconsin and not mention Milwaukee. The city hosts the largest ethnic festivals in the world. From the Asian Moon Fest to the African World Festival to the Indian Summer Fest, Milwaukee’s festivals represent the diverse cultures of Wisconsin. The summer festivals held on the lakefront are some of the largest attractions drawing people to Milwaukee.

Milwaukee is not the only city receiving international publicity for its ethnic festivals. La Crosse annually holds Oktoberfest, voted one of the best Oktoberfest celebrations in the world. Annually, between 150,000 and 200,000 people travel to La Crosse for this event. Ethnic festivals are a great opportunity for big cities and small towns to share their heritage while gaining international recognition and an economic boost for their community.

An Outdoor Experience - 4/05

Wisconsin boasts more than 61,000 campsites and each year over 14 million people camp at one of these many private or public campgrounds in Wisconsin. In 2003, 3.29 million ‘site-nights’ were occupied, resulting in more than $64 million spent by campers. Thirty-one percent of campers in Wisconsin travel from out-of-state, mainly Minnesota, Michigan and Illinois, to enjoy all that Wisconsin has to offer. This means that two-thirds of the visitors to the state’s campgrounds are Wisconsin residents. Areas surrounding campgrounds reap the benefits of this influx of travelers.

According to a survey sponsored by the Departments of Tourism and Natural Resources, and the Wisconsin Association of Campground Owners, some of the most popular activities for campers are hiking/walking (64%), shopping (49%), area attractions (40%) dining (39%) and bicycling (28%). Tent camping now accounts for 32 percent of all campers. This means RV camping is increasing in popularity. With the added luxuries an RV offers, people who never would “rough it in the wilderness” are changing their ways. It is estimated that one in every 12 U.S. vehicle-owning households now owns an RV. According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, there are over 76,000 registered RVs in the state. Wisconsin’s campgrounds offer a wonderful outdoor experience and are an important part of Wisconsin’s tourism economy.

Indoor Waterparks: Keeping Tourism "Hot" in Winter- 3/04

With 28 hotels featuring indoor waterparks, Wisconsin has more than any other state in the nation, according to the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. Wisconsin has also been a pioneer in tying business travel with family travel through the use of indoor waterparks. A Hotel Waterpark Resort Research & Consulting study found five of the 15 largest meeting facilities with indoor waterparks were in Wisconsin. The Polynesian Resort Hotel and Suites in the Wisconsin Dells was the first in the nation to introduce an indoor waterpark. Created in 1994, the waterpark even features palm trees. Since then, more travelers have headed to the Dells for rest and relaxation in the water, without catching cold. Other towns and cities in Wisconsin have caught on to this trend by building indoor waterparks or adding them to existing resorts and hotels, including Milwaukee, Green Bay and Wausau. The economic impact of Indoor Waterparks is demonstrated best by Wisconsin Dells. From January through May 1994, before the first indoor waterpark opened, there were 172,500 occupied nights in the Dells’ hotels, motels and resorts. From December through May 2003, this number more than doubled to 451,320 occupied nights. As for traveler expenditures, $57,584,419 was spent from January through May 1994. From January through May 2003, $373,818,641 was spent - a 649% increase! The growth of indoor waterparks, a new revenue source for the State, shows the ingenuity of the Wisconsin tourism industry.

Hit The Slopes! -2/04

In America, the first modern ski club was founded in New Hampshire in 1882. Fast forward to 2003 and you will find 36 ski areas in Wisconsin, putting us third in the nation. During the 2003-2004 winter season, 1.86 million skiers visited these Wisconsin slopes, spending $120 million to stay cold, fall down and have fun.

In 2003, 30 percent of winter travelers in Wisconsin downhill skied. Almost half of these skiers were from out-of-state, and their visit included at least one overnight stay. Ski hills are not the only businesses that benefit from these visitors who spend money on meals, entertainment and lodging.

Downhill skiing is not the only winter activity that attracts visitors. With more than 250 cross country ski trails, Wisconsin is a national leader in the sport. Wisconsin hosts the internationally famous Subaru American Birkebeiner. This years 32nd cross country ski race attracted 9,000 skiers and 15,000 spectators from 19 foreign countries and 45 states. The average family of four who travels to the "Birkie" will spend $1,000 if driving and $2,000 if flying, much of which will end up in the Wisconsin economy.

Wisconsin Snowmobiling - 1/04

Not only is snowmobiling one of the most popular pastimes in Wisconsin, it is an important part of tourism during the cold winter months. The prime snowmobiling time typically lasts from mid-December through March. Thanks in part to snowmobilers, these few months can be quite profitable for Wisconsin, in what was once thought to be a slow tourism season.

The Department of Tourism, with the Department of Natural Resources, studied snowmobilers during the winter of 2000-2001. Their research found that the economic impact of snowmobiling totaled almost $249.5 million. This figure includes only the snowmobilers' expenditures made during their trips, and excludes any purchases made beforehand. This impressive figure, therefore, does not include the sale of snowmobiles, trailers, outerwear, or other necessary equipment.

Snowmobiling is effective in attracting visitors from other states. In the winter of 2000-2001, 73,963 non-Wisconsin residents registered snowmobiles in the State, amounting to 25 percent of all snowmobilers. In addition, 59,623 non-residents purchased a Wisconsin snowmobile pass. Out-of-state snowmobilers are especially valuable to Wisconsin’s economy because they travel in the largest groups averaging almost 6 people. These tens of thousands of people might not otherwise visit Wisconsin in the winter if it were not for snowmobiling.

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Bringing in the Big Bucks: Wisconsin Deer Hunting - 12/04

Deer hunting is not only an integral part of Wisconsin’s culture; it is an economic asset to the State. Deer hunters generated a whopping $233 million in Wisconsin during the 2000-2001 hunting seasons, according to a Department of Tourism study. Over half a million people hunt deer in Wisconsin. These hunters spend money on food, beverages, lodging, recreation, transportation and shopping. On average, deer hunters spend anywhere from $20 to $50 daily. Considering most hunting trips last from three to ten days, it is easy to see how these hundreds of thousands of hunters bring substantial funds into Wisconsin communities.

These communities benefit greatly from their hunting visitors. What could be a slow time of year- between summer and snowmobiling season- is made profitable by deer hunting. Grocery stores, restaurants, hunting supply stores, butcher shops, gas stations, taxidermists, hotels and taverns all attract deer hunters. Keep in mind that the $233 million figure only includes what was spent ON the hunting trip. Purchases of equipment, apparel, etc. prior to hunting trips are not included in this figure. This money goes directly to the hunters’ local economies, benefiting everyone.

A Home Away from Home: Wisconsin's Lodging Industry - 11/04

One of the biggest questions for any tourist after deciding where to go on vacation is deciding where to stay once there. Most vacationers pay for lodging at either hotels, motels, resorts or bed and breakfasts. In 2003, $1.49 billion was spent on lodging expenses alone in Wisconsin!

Besides the sales tax generated by lodging facilities, another way lodging helps Wisconsin’s economy is through room taxes. In 2002, 190 municipalities and the Milwaukee-area Wisconsin Center District collected $47.6 million in room taxes, according to a report from the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance. Room tax revenue is used to further improve the tourism industry, which in turn brings more money to the State.

Some may think of lodging expenses as a by-product of vacations. However, many Wisconsin lodging facilities are expanding to become destinations in themselves. Lodging facilities are boosting tourism in traditionally slow winter months through investing in indoor water parks. The American Club in Kohler has also become known as a destination in addition to a lodging facility. It is clear to see how through creating jobs, generating sales and room taxes and attracting tourists to Wisconsin, lodging is an integral part of the State’s tourism industry and general economic prosperity.

The Arts in Wisconsin: Painting a Picture of Economic Prosperity Across the State -10/04

The new Madison Overture Center for the Arts has officially opened amid a flurry of press and excitement. Madison is not alone in its decision to invest in such an endeavor; many Wisconsin communities have invested more resources into the arts. Nearly 100 Wisconsin communities have recently completed or are in the process of creating arts facilities.

High profile projects, like the Overture Center and the Milwaukee Art Museum’s recent expansion, along with smaller-scale projects, have proven that art can be profitable. A survey released in the summer of 2002, "Arts & Economic Prosperity: The Economic Impact of Nonprofit Arts Organizations and Their Audiences," found that Wisconsin’s art industry generates $289.8 million a year, including $38 million in local and state tax revenues, supporting almost 9,500 jobs. According to the Department of Tourism’s 2003 Davidson-Peterson report, cultural events brought $84.63 million dollars to Wisconsin. Evening entertainment, which many community performing arts centers provide, drew $286.36 million to the state.

Home Grown Tourism: Wisconsin Fairs- 9/04
Funnel cakes, cotton candy, Ferris wheels and revenue? Which one of these things appears to not belong? Actually, these words commonly associated with your local county fair, do all belong. County fairs are not only tried and true Wisconsin traditions; they are solid sources of revenue for the State. The history of county fairs extends to 1842, where the first was held in Waukesha. Since then, Wisconsin has grown to host 90 county fairs. Although not traditionally thought of as a form of tourism, these fairs attract about 3.2 million visitors annually. Combined, Wisconsin fairs are estimated to have an economic impact of almost $150 million.

In addition to the positive impact county fairs have on the state, the State Fair also gives Wisconsin’s economy a boost. Nearly 1 million people visit the Wisconsin State Fair over the course of 11 days. In 2001, the total impact of the State Fair was $67 million to the local region and $48.8 to the State.

Mixing Business and Pleasure: The Impact of Conventions on Wisconsin’s Economy - 8/04

Think abut the last time you attended a conference. You probably stayed one or two nights in a hotel. One to three of your meals were likely at restaurants near the conference. On the way home, you may have needed to fill up your gas tank. Overall, you could have contributed more than $300 to the local community where the conference was held. Conferences are an integral form of tourism that often gets overlooked. Every year thousands of people from Wisconsin and throughout the United States travel to various Wisconsin cities to attend conventions. 17 percent of hotel, motel, resort and bed and breakfast stays are attributed to meetings or conventions. With the average daily rate for Wisconsin hotels at $80.17, hotel stays alone provide a substantial boost to the State’s economy.

Along with the thousands of convention attendees that travel to Wisconsin, public exposure of Wisconsin follows. Meeting planners encourage conference attendance by touting the attractions of the host city. Materials sent to prospective attendees boast of the exciting attractions and events the city has to offer. More importantly, word-of-mouth advertising spreads the image of Wisconsin as a professional and leisure destination. Convention attendees are increasingly combining their business trips with family vacations or returning to Wisconsin as a traditional tourist. Although conventions are not often recognized as a form of tourism, or a contributor to Wisconsin’s economy, these major events are valuable tools in promoting the growth of Wisconsin.

Sports Events and Tourism: Something for Everyone to Cheer About - 6/04

When the UW Madison Badger men’s basketball team played in the first round of the NCAA playoffs at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Convention and Visitors Bureau estimated that teams and fans spent more than $1.8 million over the three days at hotels, restaurants, taverns and retail stores. CBS will televise the tournament games, giving Milwaukee and Wisconsin hours of invaluable, free publicity.

In addition to hosting the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament, Wisconsin already has a solid reputation as a destination for sports events and athletic attractions. The ESPN Outdoor Games hosted their fifth annual Olympic-style competition in July 2004 in Madison. The economic effect of the Outdoor Games is estimated at $11 million plus $25 million in television exposure value to Madison and Wisconsin. The PGA Championship played at Whistling Straits golf course in Kohler last August, driving an estimated $75 million into the Wisconsin economy, while attracting the world's best players, more than 250,000 spectators from all 50 states, 3,600 volunteers, and television coverage in over 160 countrie. The expansive renovations to Lambeau Field also contribute to Wisconsin’s reputation as an athletic “hot spot.” The already rich history of the stadium has been expanded through extending Lambeau Field into a year-round destination.

Wisconsin: An International Destination - 5/04

Tthe American Birkebeiner, a cross-country ski marathon extending from Cable to Hayward, is one of the world’s largest and most celebrated of its kind. Thousands of skiers from around the globe compete in the race, making the American Birkebeiner one of many reasons international visitors travel to Wisconsin. In a period of five days, the American Birkebeiner will draw $4 million into the Wisconsin economy. The American Birkebeiner not only attracts international visitors, but global media attention

In addition to the Birkebeiner, the EAA AirVenture and Ironman triathlon also attract travelers from around the world. The July 2003 EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh included 2,249 international visitors from 68 nations. This event, like the Birkebeiner, also increased the visibility of Wisconsin, with 1,075 registered media from five continents. The 2003 Ironman triathlon also attracted thousands. Nearly 2,000 athletes from 25 countries and 46 states competed in the triathlon. 75,000 spectators crowded the streets of Madison to cheer the athletes on.

Wisconsin is daily gaining international flavor. Events like the American Birkebeiner, EAA AirVenture and Ironman attract media from across the nation and world, in addition to bringing money into the Wisconsin economy. Putting Wisconsin in an international spotlight advances its reputation as a world-class destination.

Grand Excursion 2004: Building Partnerships, Community and Pride in Heritage - 4/04

Throughout 2004, the 50-plus communities along 400 miles of the Upper Mississippi River commemorated a major historical event as part of a four-state initiative designed to promote cultural heritage in addition to community and state partnerships.The year-long event was in honor of the 150th anniversary of the original Grand Excursion route of 1854, which was a celebration of America's first railroad connection to the Mississippi River. Grand Excursion 2004 retraced this historic trip, giving participants opportunities to experience special festivals, parades and programs.The signature event of Grand Excursion 2004 was the Grand Flotilla, the largest steamboat flotilla on the Mississippi in more than a century, which traveled from the Quad Cities to the Twin Cities from June 25 through July 5. Seventeen Wisconsin cities held events in conjunction with the Grand Flotilla's journey. Grand Excursion 2004 showcased the upper Mississippi River as a high-quality tourist and recreational destination and helped connect Midwest regions to one another through solid partnerships.

Food for Thought:The Restaurant Industry's Impact on Tourism and Wisconsin's Economy - 3/04

Almost every town or city in Wisconsin has that signature restaurant, which is a must stop for any passerby or visitor. Fond du Lac has Schreiner's, with its baby blue and white walls, carpet and chairs. LaCrosse features Piggy's mouthwatering ribs and view of the Mississippi River. And no trip to Door County is complete without a meal at the famous Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant; what's a meal without goats? Not only are restaurants a place to eat while vacationing, in some cases, they are the destination. The recently released Davidson-Peterson report found that traveler expenditures on food account for nearly one quarter of all dollars spent by travelers in Wisconsin during 2003. The restaurant industry is a vital component of Wisconsin tourism. Twenty-four percent of Wisconsin tourist expenditures goes to food. This amounts to nearly $3 billion.

Tourism is also important to the restaurant industry; travelers account for 15 to 30 percent of all restaurant sales. According to the Travel Industry Association of America, roughly half of all travelers report that they dine out when they travel, and that dining out is the most popular activity planned after tourists arrive at a destination.In addition to bringing money into the state, the restaurant industry supplies a wealth of employment. More than two out of five adults in the United States have worked in the restaurant industry at some point in their lives. In Wisconsin, there are over 15,000 foodservice businesses in operation. This makes the food industry one of the largest private employers in the state, with more than 178,000 people working in restaurants. The industry is also growing; 2,640 new jobs were created at eating and drinking places in Wisconsin in 2003. The next time you dine at your favorite restaurant, remember that it is responsible for much more than merely satisfying your appetite. Restaurants are thriving contributors to Wisconsin's economy that add flavor to their local communities.

Tour de Wisconsin? - 2/04

According to the Travel Industry of America, more than 27 million travelers have taken biking vacations in the past five years! Not only has biking grown to be one of the most popular outdoor vacations in America, nationally renown bike trails and races have brought thousands to Wisconsin. A study conducted by the Department of Tourism found cycling visitors drive money into Wisconsin's economy. These tourists stay an average three nights in lodging accommodations, dine in local restaurants, shop area stores, and visit attractions and museums. Major bike races also bring tourist money to the State. The International Cycling Classic, commonly known as Superweek, attracts more than a thousand competitors from 40 states and 20 foreign countries. This does not include spectators who come to enjoy the 88 races that extend through twelve cities in Eastern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois. Another major event, the Ironman Wisconsin triathlon, also attracts thousands of people to Wisconsin. In 2003, nearly 2,000 athletes from 25 countries and 46 states competed in the triathlon, which featured a 112 mile bike race. In addition to drawing thousands to Wisconsin, major cycling events like these provide great media exposure for the State.

The high quality bike trails Wisconsin offers have also attracted impressive media attention. Major national newspapers like USA Today, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Houston Sun Chronicle are a few that have touted Wisconsin's trails to their readers. Recreational and competitive cyclists are just one more example of how tourism brings money into Wisconsin's economy and projects a positive image of the State to the nation and world.

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