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Signs of hope for struggling tourism industry

Published: Mar. 2, 2021 at 2:10 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - It’s no secret that the pandemic has had a devastating impact on Northeast Wisconsin’s travel and hospitality industry over the past year, but tourism leaders say recent signs of hope are now emerging.

And that brings a sigh of relief, because promoting tourism in the Green Bay area has been a challenge (to say the least) since last spring and required a very delicate balance.

“You can’t come out saying, ‘Hey, come to Green Bay. We’re going to do all these things,’” says Brad Toll, president of the Greater Green Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Which is why the Greater Green Bay CVB has closely monitored weekly traveler surveys to gauge their state of mind.

“What is encouraging is looking at a lot of the sentiment surveys. At the the beginning of summer, along about June, we’re expecting the leisure market to come back pretty strong, and that’s what the whole industry is focusing on,” says Toll.

In recent weeks, Tolls says surveys have shown the number of people saying they plan to travel this summer has soared to 80 percent.

“The biggest factor has been the vaccines. We just can’t get people vaccinated fast enough. That’s what’s going to make the difference,” says Toll.

According to Toll, though, leisure travel is just half the battle, and in this regard 2021 could be another tough year.

“A huge portion of the tourism spend comes from business travel. Well, a lot of our businesses, even local, don’t have their employees back so they’re not sending anyone out on business trips, and as a result that segment of the industry is completely gone yet, and same thing for conventions and conferences. If you aren’t going to the office, you’re likely not going to go to a conference,” says Toll.

Which means weathering the pandemic storm continues, just with more hope than any time over the past 12 months.

“We just need to work together to get to the other end and there might be a light, might be a light down there on the horizon,” says Toll with a smile.

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