Governor Touts Tourism at Visitor Center Celebration


La Crosse Tribune – May 6, 2017

Gov. Scott Walker kicked off his tour of the state’s tourism industry in La Crosse on Friday, May 5th, with a visitor center ribbon-cutting on Interstate 90.

Walker participated in the event at the rest area and visitor center on French Island, and released highlights from new tourism numbers that show Wisconsin tourism continues to grow.

Replacing the rest area that opened in 1977 was a longtime goal of retired La Crosse County Convention and Visitor Bureau Executive Director Dave Clements. Clements worked hard with La Crosse’s Democratic legislators, Sen. Jennifer Shilling and Rep. Jill Billings to get state support for the project, which included buy-in from the Republican governor in 2014. Construction of the $3.5 million facility began in 2016. It includes a visitor’s building, restrooms, playground, pet exercise area, picnic tables and seasonal walking paths.

Clements attended the ribbon-cutting and said the project was one of the last things on his bucket from his days as tourism director. The facility is a great boon for the state and the city, he said.

“This is like my little baby here,” he said. “I couldn’t be more proud.”

Dozens of representatives of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the county visitors bureau and the Wisconsin Department of Tourism and local visitors bureaus packed the rest visitor’s center for the celebration. During his remarks, Walker spoke about the growth of the tourism industry during his tenure as governor.

The tourism industry reached $20 billion in 2016, Walker announced, an increase of more than $5 billion from six years ago. The number of visitors is up as well, with 107.7 million people coming to Wisconsin in 2016.

La Crosse had the ninth-largest volume of tourism for the second year in a row, visitor bureau executive director AJ Frels said. And visitor spending rose to more than $248 million SEE FULL STORY.

LADCO’s Support of the Visitor Center Renovation

In 2013 LADCO and other delegates took this issue to the State Capitol during the Oktoberfest in the Capitol event. We advocated for the renovation, believing that in order to project a positive image of Wisconsin, we must present a welcome center that enhances the traveler experience. The center helps drive visitor spending, generating revenues for businesses and governing entities alike. By updating our welcome center, we will create a positive first impression for travelers, showing pride in our city and our state. Moreover, we can give travelers the best possible experience of Wisconsin, hoping they will return again!