MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers and Tourism Secretary-designee Sara Meaney announced Sept. 14 the launch of the Tourism Relief to Accelerate Vitality and Economic Lift (TRAVEL) stimulus grant program. This $8 million effort is aimed at providing much-needed support to the tourism industry. Administered by the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, TRAVEL grants will be distributed to Wisconsin’s tourism promotion and tourism development organizations for the purposes of resuming business operations and helping restore economic activity stemming from the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Two types of grant funding will be available through the TRAVEL grants: funds to support the continuation of operations due to impacts of COVID-19 and marketing funds to promote a safe and healthy experience for travelers and resident consumers amid the COIVD-19 public health emergency. Tourism promotion and tourism development organizations can apply for one or both types of grant funding. Long-term marketing campaigns unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic are not eligible.
This effort is funded through the state’s discretionary Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act dollars. Full program details, eligibility standards, grant application and program contact information are available here. The Department of Tourism is accepting applications now through 4 p.m. Central Time on Sept. 28 and grants will be announced by late October.
Tourism is an important pillar of Wisconsin’s economy and the industry saw its biggest year on record in 2019. Over 113.2 million visits statewide generated an estimated $22.2 billion, including $1.6 billion in state and local tax revenue. The tourism industry supports 202,217 full- and part-time jobs in Wisconsin and last year, the state achieved a return on investment of $8 in tax revenue per $1 promotional spend.
While this data underscores that tourism is one of Wisconsin’s most financially valuable industries, the impact of tourism advancement activities upon Wisconsin’s economy stretches well beyond the tourism industry. The halo effect of tourism’s advertising and attraction of travelers is a significant asset in recruiting entrepreneurs, workers, students, retirees and investors.