MADISON, Wis. (April 15, 2020) – While travel is on hold, the work of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism (WDT) is not. To support the industry even amid Safer at Home and COVID-19, Wisconsin Department of Tourism Secretary-Designee Sara Meaney and her team are working diligently to provide inspiration for travelers as well as support for tourism-related businesses to ensure a swift ramp-up for all once it’s safe to travel again.

“Even as people honor the travel restrictions and stay Safer at Home, we want travelers to have the resources they need to make informed decisions about their upcoming travel plans. We’re also using our social channels and to introduce some special virtual travel experiences as well as inspiring resources and tools for planning future trips while many have the time and desire to plan,” said Secretary Meaney. “Meanwhile, we remain dedicated to addressing the unprecedented challenges our tourism industry is facing, adjusting our marketing programs and doing everything we can now to ensure a swift ramp-up for travelers, Wisconsin’s workers, and ultimately the state’s economy as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Tourism is a key employment and economic driver for Wisconsin, generating $21.6 billion in business sales and $13.3 billion in spending, sustaining 199,000 jobs in 2018. Fortunately, with 2019 being a record year for Wisconsin travel and tourism, the state has shown itself to be an increasingly sought-after destination, which gives the department confidence that it remains on the radar as a preferred destination for visitors later this year. Even amid COVID-19, saw a 3% YOY increase in travel guide requests during the first half of March. Additionally, according to information gleaned from data platforms Sojern and Adara, searches for flights to Wisconsin in September are currently tracking on par with searches made in 2019 – underscoring that travelers are researching and planning trips with Wisconsin in mind.

For industry partners, Meaney and her team have been adjusting programs to maximize impact for travel and tourism during the back half of the year, including:

  • Providing updates about the latest travel restrictions affecting Wisconsin as well as resources for businesses to navigate COVID-19
  • Supporting recent legislation proposed by Governor Evers that would establish and fund tourism-related grant programs
  • Updating WDT’s marketing plan to align with what’s happening and maximize travel in summer, fall and early winter – working to reignite momentum from 2019, which was a record year for tourism in Wisconsin

For travelers, WDT is providing real-time information to help getaway-seekers make informed decisions about their travel plans – offering special limited-time virtual experiences to spark travel joy now, and fueling trip-planning through website content, including:

  • Limited-Time Travel Experiences for Spring and Early Summer
    • SlowTV: Wherever travelers are right now, they’re invited to experience Wisconsin’s breathtaking beauty and be lulled into a state of full relaxation with this special series of videos, airing for a limited time on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram TV. (Launching mid-April)
    • Campfire: Travelers everywhere are invited to get social by gathering ’round our virtual campfire for a little comfort, camaraderie and conversation. Hosted on our social channels, this gathering takes places in a fresh Wisconsin setting each week – complete with the sounds of birds, crickets and a crackling fire. (Launching late April)
    • Great Wisconsin Getaway Sweepstakes: Hosted on, this simple sign-up sweepstakes gives potential travelers the chance to be entered to win a new prize pack every week, each of which is packed with gift cards for lodging, food and activities for destinations across our great state. (Launching late April)
    • “Where in Wisco” Sweepstakes: In this photo-based trivia game hosted on, visitors will have the chance to win prizes by guessing “Where in Wisco?” Prizes will include gift cards for activities throughout the state. (Launching early May)
  • Resources and Virtual Travel Adventures
    • #HowWIHelp: This grassroots movement was started to share the good-spirited things people across Wisconsin are doing to help each other during the COVID-19 pandemic
    • E-newsletters and updates about travel restrictions affecting our state, helping travelers make educated decisions about any upcoming or future travel plans
    • Free travel guides, which travelers can sign up to receive on
    • A Trip Planner Tool that makes it easy to build out the ideal vacation itinerary now – including day trips, weekend escapes or lengthy vacations with friends, family and even pets
    • A media gallery of #TravelWI photos that showcases Wisconsin’s scenic beauty along with a library of Wisconsin travel articles to inspire day trips, weekend getaways and long vacations with family and friends
    • Fish Fry Faceoff: Travelers can visit Travel Wisconsin’s social pages to nominate their favorite fish fry spot in Wisconsin. Top nominations will advance to the voting round on for ultimate bragging rights: the title of Best Fish Fry in Wisconsin (Nominations live now, voting begins April 22)
    • Virtual Fishing Game: To celebrate the opening of fishing season, Travel Wisconsin is developing an online fishing game. Travelers will select a body of water in Wisconsin to cast their line, and when they catch a fish, they’ll learn facts about the species and where they can be found in the state (Launching early May)

“Our team has confidence that our state will be able get through these trying times,” said Secretary Meaney. “We know there’s a lot at stake, yet we remain wholly committed to doing all we can to support tourism throughout Wisconsin and encouraging the well-being of our current and future visitors in the meantime.”