Wisconsin only had about half a year of tourism in 2021, but that was more than enough to offset the costs for 2020.
In every county in the state, tourism spending increased last year compared to 2020 pandemic levels, with La Crosse County reporting a 23% increase to $262 million.
Explore La Crosse CEO AJ Frels is very pleased with his recovery.
“Seeing how our travel partners, our accommodation partners, all the restaurants, shops, etc. in our area have done this has been amazing,” Frels said. “We were very proud of it.”
Frels added that tourism spending in 2021 is still not quite up to par with 2019 levels, before the advent of COVID. He credits outdoor recreation as a form of social distancing as one area that has helped the region bounce back.
“We are a very special area, unique to this part of the country,” Frels said, “and it really helped us to attract people quickly and recover, and we knew that this was our calling card, and we went for it when we were selling things to come back and see how tourism bounces back.”
La Crosse County regularly ranks among the top 10 counties in Wisconsin for visitor spending, ranking ninth in 2019.