$140 million in relief heading to businesses in tourism industry

Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 6:28 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 24, 2021 at 6:39 PM CDT
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GRAND CHUTE, Wis. (WBAY) - $140 million in relief funding will soon go to businesses in the state’s tourism, travel and entertainment industries, which were especially hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As those who work in the travel industry begin to recover from a year of losses tied to the pandemic, more help is on the way through funding secured under the American Rescue Plan Act.

The announcement came during a radio address by Governor Tony Evers on Thursday.

“Some of these venues, specifically live music venues that have big events, this is really meaningful. These grants will go a long way towards helping them in reopening,” said Pam Seidl, executive director of the Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The relief funding will not only help places like the Fox Cities Convention and & Visitors Bureau, which market events, but also places that host them, like the Resch Center.

PMI Senior Corporate Communications Manager Terry Charles said, “We had, I think, a 95 percent revenue reduction basically for the year of 2020. So more than half of our staff was laid off. Some have come back; more will be coming back this summer.”

The lodging industry and minor league sports teams, like the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, are also eligible for help.

Just recently, Fox Cities Stadium began hosting events at full capacity.

“We’re back at it. We’re going, but every little bit helps, and the fact again that from a revenue standpoint it was almost non-existent last year, it definitely will help us moving forward,” added Rob Zerjav, the team’s president.

The losses last year came after a record setting year for travel in 2019.

Seidl said, “Visitor spending in 2019 was $511 million. Visitor spending in 2020 was $311 million. So, we lost $200 million just in that visitor spending alone in one year.”

Specific details on how this money will be distributed are still being worked out. The state is expected to release more information later this summer.

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