MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers, this week, traveled across the state to celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week and highlight Wisconsin’s thriving tourism industry. This year’s National Travel and Tourism Week follows last year’s announcement of a record-breaking year for Wisconsin tourism in 2022. According to 2022 economic impact data, the tourism industry generated $23.7 billion in total economic impact, surpassing the previous record year of $22.2 billion set in 2019.  “Here in Wisconsin, we’ve got something for everybody. From the Ice Age Trail officially being designated a national park and the NFL draft coming to Wisconsin in 2025 to the new Amtrak Borealis Train connecting St. Paul to Chicago straight through central Wisconsin, we’re doing big things here in the Badger State,” said Gov. Evers. “The success of Wisconsin’s tourism industry is a testament to the hardworking business owners, service workers, and marketing partners across the state who always go above and beyond to showcase the best we have to offer—and it was great to get out and meet with some of these folks this week.”  On Monday, to kick off National Travel and Tourism Week, Gov. Evers and Wisconsin Department of Tourism Secretary Anne Sayers visited Rooted in Red, a fifth-generation cranberry farm in Wisconsin Rapids. During the visit, the governor and secretary took a tour of the farm with owners Jamie Biegel and Rochelle Biegel Hoffman, who highlighted the cranberry marsh and their wedding venue event space. Additionally, Rooted in Red was recently featured on Bravo Top Chef’s current season, which was filmed in Wisconsin. Photos of the visit are available here and here.   Afterward, the governor and secretary traveled to Bayfield, where they went on a hike at Frog Bay Tribal National Park, the first Tribal national park in the United States. The park is home to a rare boreal forest ecotype, over a mile of riparian corridor, nearly 120 acres of wetlands and freshwater estuary habitat, and nearly 4,000 feet of undeveloped Lake Superior shoreline. The park is managed by the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians’ Natural Resources Division, and the governor and secretary were joined on the hike by Red Cliff Chairwoman Nicole Boyd, Vice Chair Richard Peterson, Red Cliff Water Resources Manager Shania Nordby, and Treaty Natural Resources Administrator Dylan Bizhikiins Jennings. Photos of the hike are available here and here.  Then, the governor and secretary finished the day at Sweet & Salty, an ice cream shop in Bayfield known for its homemade popcorn. During the visit, the governor, with help from the owner, Pete Kulenkamp, made a waffle cone and learned about their small business. Photos of the stop are available here and here.  On Tuesday, Gov. Evers and Secretary Sayers continued National Travel and Tourism Week with a tour of the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. During the visit, the governor and secretary experienced some of the interactive exhibits, including a replica of Vince Lombardi’s office, as well as displays of the team’s world championship trophies. The governor and secretary also had the opportunity to see the newly constructed 2025 NFL Draft Countdown Clock. Photos of the tour are available here and here.  After, they traveled to La Crosse and stopped at the Sweet Shop for a quick ice cream visit, where they met with owner Marty Dierson. The Sweet Shop has been owned by the same family since 1921 and still operates out of its original location. The governor and secretary were joined by State Sen. Brad Pfaff (D-Onalaska) and State Rep. Jill Billings (D-La Crosse). A photo of the stop is available here.  Next, Gov. Evers and Secretary Sayers joined Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) Secretary Craig Thompson, Amtrak, and federal, state, and local leaders in La Crosse for a press conference celebrating the launch of the first new passenger rail train in over 20 years in Wisconsin. The new Borealis train service doubles passenger rail options along a corridor that connects many businesses, universities, tourist attractions, and communities in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois. Following the press conference, the governor rode the train to Tomah, one of the eight stops the Amtrak Borealis train will make at Wisconsin train stations along the route. More information on the new Borealis train service is available here. Photos from the event are available here and here.  On Wednesday, Gov. Evers continued celebrating the week with a hike at the Pelican River Forest, where he was joined by leadership from The Conservation Fund, Gathering Waters, Oneida County Clean Water Action, Pelican River volunteers, folks from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), members of local ATV group, leadership and representatives of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin and Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Mohican Indians, as well as many other local and Tribal leaders and conservation stakeholders. During his 2024 State of the State address, Gov. Tony Evers announced the approval of an additional conservation easement covering 54,898 acres of the Pelican River Forest to complete one of the largest conservation projects in Wisconsin history. Altogether, over 67,000 acres of the Pelican River Forest will be protected, ensuring the forest will remain open to the public in perpetuity for outdoor recreation activities such as fishing, hunting, skiing, trapping, and hiking. Conserving the Pelican River Forest also makes significant progress towards Gov. Evers’ Trillion Trees Pledge to conserve 125,000 acres of forest by the end of 2030, in addition to planting 75 million trees. In celebration of Earth Day this year, Gov. Evers announced that the state is increasing its Trillion Trees Pledge planting goal from planting 75 million trees by the end of 2030 to planting 100 million trees by the end of 2030. Photos from the hike are available here and here.   On Thursday, Gov. Evers continued his week of statewide travel with a stop at O&H Danish Bakery in Racine. The governor was led on a tour by Peter Olesen, a fourth-generation owner of O&H Danish Bakery, a family-owned and operated business operating out of Racine since 1949. During the visit, the governor, with help from Wade Nelson, a baker who has been with O&H for over 30 years, shaped, filled, and frosted his own Kringle, the official state pastry. The governor was joined by State Rep. Greta Neubauer (D-Racine) and Mayor Corey Mason. Photos from the tour are available here and here.  The governor, joined by Secretary Sayers, then continued the day in Wisconsin Dells with a tour at Dells Boat Tours. They were joined by Dan and Jen Gavinski, owners of Dells Boat Tours and the Original Wisconsin Ducks, Wisconsin Dells Convention and Visitors Bureau President and CEO Jill Diehl, as well as stakeholders and local leaders. Photos of the boat tour are available here and here.  On Friday, the governor wrapped up National Tourism and Travel Week in Sturgeon Bay first with a stop at the Open Door Bird Sanctuary, which includes 34 acres of pristine land with hiking trails, wildlife viewing, and an array of raptor species. During the visit, the governor met with the Open Door Bird Sanctuary’s executive director, Rob Hults, as well as Oslo, a snowy owl that calls Open Door Bird Sanctuary home. Photos from the tour are available here and here.  Finally, the governor ended the day at Whitefish Dunes State Park and Cave Point County Park, where he was led on a hike by Whitefish Dunes State Park Supervisor Erin Stender. Last month, the DNR announced the approval of funding for Friends of Grants, including a $20,000 grant to the Friends of Whitefish Dunes for a trail to Cave Point County Park. The funding was provided by Gov. Evers and the Wisconsin State Building Commission, which was part of $4.2 million approved for 29 projects at DNR properties across the state. Photos from the hike are available here and here.  Since 2020, Gov. Evers has directed investments totaling more than $1 billion of Wisconsin’s federal pandemic relief funds in economic resilience, and more than $200 million of that total was invested in the travel and tourism, hotels and lodging, and entertainment industries alone.  The 2023-25 biennial budget, signed by Gov. Evers, invested approximately $34 million over the biennium to raise Wisconsin’s profile across the country as a premier business, cultural, and recreational destination. This is the largest increase in marketing and advertising funds for the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, and with this investment, the department will be able to run a competitive marketing campaign and keep pace with neighboring states.  Additionally, last November, Gov. Evers announced $36.6 million in grants for building projects across the state in Janesville, Milwaukee, Green Bay, and Door County that were previously rejected by members of the Wisconsin State Legislature in the 2023-25 Capital Budget process. The governor’s investment is projected to support over 400 jobs and nearly $68 million in economic activity. The effort, funded using American Rescue Plan Act funds, will ensure the projects can move forward and build upon Gov. Evers’ and the Evers Administration’s strategic investments that will have long-term impacts on the state’s tourism industry, workforce, and economy.  Most recently, on Monday, the governor and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) requested the release of $10 million in already-approved funding for the Opportunity Attraction and Promotion Fund aimed at promoting Wisconsin as a premiere host and major destination for large-scale events. The Evers Administration submitted a formal s. 13.10 request to the Republican-controlled Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) to release the $10 million investment, which was created and funded in the 2023-25 biennial budget. A copy of the s. 13.10 request submitted by WEDC to JFC is available here.

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