With positive economic headlines nearly extinct these days, the news this morning from Stephanie Klett, president and CEO of VISIT Lake Geneva, regarding tourism’s economic impact in the area provides a singular bright spot. In 2019, Walworth County saw an increase of 2.7% in direct visitor spending from the year prior, from $569 million to $584.5 million, putting the county in the number six spot among 72 counties for tourism economic impact. This annual tracking is carried out by international research firms Tourism Economics and Longwoods International in conjunction with the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. Today’s news from VISIT Lake Geneva coincides with this week’s observance of National Travel and Tourism Week. For more on VISIT Lake Geneva, log on to www.VisitLakeGeneva.com.
Along with the healthy bump in visitor spending, Walworth County posted gains across all benchmarks tracked by the Department of Tourism including total business sales, employment, labor income, and state and local taxes. Walworth County’s number six ranking among all Wisconsin counties is especially notable given it is significantly outspent in tourism marketing by the top five. This is the 10th consecutive year of tourism growth for Walworth County.
“Lake Geneva remains the heart and soul of tourism in the county, you might even say the full southern border of Wisconsin,” said Klett. “The tourism sector here will be central to healing the area’s economy and healing the collective morale of residents and visitors too.”
According to Klett, residents have been joined by loyal vacation fans in supporting Lake Geneva through the coronavirus pandemic by shopping local online, purchasing gift cards for use later, patronizing restaurants offering carryout and delivery, postponing rather than cancelling vacation plans, donating to local charities especially food banks, and supporting local healthcare employees and other frontline heroes.
“There’s a spirit of working together in this community that can’t be broken,” said Klett. She noted how that spirit is rooted in the contributions of homegrown businesses and unique landmarks as well as the shared appreciation of the natural resources. “There are so many compassionate and hardworking people behind the scenes running tourism attractions, resorts, boutiques and restaurants and they deserve all the credit in the world because it’s their example of resilience that will see us through to better days.”
To get to those better days, Klett and her team have already mapped out marketing strategies aimed at markets within an easy drive with messages that promote outdoor activities, wellness and farm-to-table. Impeccable safety and cleanliness standards will also be part of the messaging.
Along with its traditional visitor base of families and empty nesters, VISIT Lake Geneva is looking to target younger travelers who value experiences over things and crave being in nature in its first wave of advertising and publicity. “We predict those younger travelers will be among the first to take leisure trips again and we are very well poised to welcome them, with our advantage being we have room to spread out and new adventures around every corner,” noted Klett.
Klett went on to say that specific itineraries for staycations and road trips will populate VISIT Lake Geneva’s social media content. “Where else can you find a U.S. mailboat tour, a safari, a top magic show and ziplining all within minutes of each other, and of course there’s our glorious lakeshore path that sets us apart too,” said Klett.
She also has her sights set on travel opportunities in the second half of the year. “We’re looking to make the most of fall by owning the position that we offer the last hurrah of fall color in the state, and we want to build on last winter’s successes by inviting travelers to make new memories in this season too.”
Klett had advice for people longing to visit Lake Geneva as they wait out shelter at home directives. “Reminisce, daydream, plan your perfect itinerary and stay connected with us, because we’re counting each day as one day closer to welcoming you back to Lake Geneva.”
About VISIT Lake Geneva
VISIT Lake Geneva is the community’s Chamber of Commerce and official Visitor & Convention Bureau. It works to share the wonders of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin with travelers from far and wide in search of natural beauty with a feel of the seaside, a place where family traditions can be made, and genuine warmth that makes them feel welcome time and time again. For more, log on to www.VisitLakeGeneva.com.