Destinations Wisconsin is pleased that Governor Evers and the Wisconsin Department of Tourism recognizes the value of the state’s destinations marketing organizations and the devastating impact that COVID-19 has had on many of them by allocating $8 million trhough theTRAVEL Grants program.
Destination marketing organizations have been providing resources and marketing assistance to their local tourism industry and communities and promoting safe travel within their destination since COVID-19 began. At the same time, many have been faced with devastating budget shortfalls, more than $11 million for 2020, due to the sharp decline in room taxes which is their primary funding source. They have not been eligible for federal programs such as the Payroll Protection Program which has left many with no choice but to lay off staff and cut back on services at a time when their local tourism industry needs it most.
The TRAVEL Grants program will allow Wisconsin destination marketing organizations that have been most affected to bring back staff, promote safe and local tourism, and operate their visitor centers safely.
“Our destination marketing organizations have been working diligently throughout the pandemic to be an important resource, advocate, and promoter of their local tourism businesses while facing enormous fiscal challenges”, Executive Director Julia Hertel said. “We are grateful that Governor Evers and the Wisconsin Department of Tourism recognizes their enormous value to the tourism industry by providing this vital funding program.”
Destinations Wisconsin is comprised of 38 destination marketing organizations (Convention and visitor bureaus, chambers of commerce and other tourism entities) that work together to drive destination economic impact, job creation and enhanced quality of life through tourism. The organization was formed in 1993 and partners with the Wisconsin Department of Tourism to promote the state as a meetings and convention destination and sporting events destination. The organization hosts the annual Wisconsin Fall Tourism Conference, serves as a member of the Tourism Federation of Wisconsin (the state tourism industry’s advocacy coalition), and is a member of Destinations International.