A call to support Wisconsin's struggling tourism industry

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) Travel experts like AAA says Memorial Day weekend travel in the U.S. will likely be a record-setter, but not in a good way.

The weather is supposed to cause messy travel conditions on the peak travel days for Thanksgiving, Wednesday and Saturday into Sunday.

That's tough news for Wisconsin's already hurting tourism industry, and why the state's tourism leader is calling on everyone to support their local businesses.

Coming off the best year in a decade, which saw a whopping $22.2 billion of economic impact tied to tourism activity in Wisconsin, Tourism Secretary Sara Meaney finds herself in a unique and challenging position.

"It's certainly an interesting time to be leading the Department of Tourism for Wisconsin when travel has all but stopped for the last two months, it's certainly not what any of us anticipated after a year like 2019 being a blockbuster, 2020 is definitely a bit of a whiplash," says Meaney.

According to data from the U.S. Travel Association, Wisconsin has lost nearly $1.7 billion in travel spending since early March, or about $220 million a week.

"And now as we move into more busy season with Memorial Day often kicking off our summer season, those numbers in terms of losses are expected to continue to grow," warns Meaney.

With state public health officials and the CDC continuing to recommend that people avoid non-essential travel as much as possible, Meaney says the opportunity is there to help the tourism-related businesses near you.

"It doesn't need to be all doom and gloom, we're very, very much encouraging people to get outside in their communities, stretching their legs, exploring our amazing outdoor recreation opportunities from where you are and close to where you live, and also spreading the love, by spending dollars in those local community businesses that need your dollars now more than ever," says Meaney.