MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Tourism today announced the recipients of the Tourism Relief to Accelerate Vitality and Economic Lift (TRAVEL) stimulus grant program. TRAVEL grants have been awarded to 158 grantees totaling $11,894,966.26. The full list of tourism promotion and development organizations receiving grant funds is available here.

The TRAVEL grant program was designed to help Wisconsin’s tourism promotion and tourism development organizations resume business operations and restore economic activity stemming from the COVID-19 public health emergency. The effort is funded through the state’s discretionary federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act dollars.

“Tourism is an importance sector of the Wisconsin economy,” said Governor Tony Evers. “There’s no doubt tourism has been severely impacted by COVID-19 and we’re glad that the TRAVEL grants can provide some much-needed relief as the tourism industry works toward recovery.”

While the TRAVEL grants initially launched at $8 million, Governor Evers announced an increase in the funding by $4 million on October 6, bringing the total to the nearly $12 million awarded today.

“We glad to be distributing grants to 158 organizations, demonstrating the importance of tourism’s come back throughout the state,” said Tourism Secretary-designee Sara Meaney. “Accelerating the return of economic vitality for communities around the state is of critical importance and this grant will play a major role in helping not just the tourism economy, but all of Wisconsin’s economy.”

TRAVEL grants will support the continuation of operations due to impacts of COVID-19 and marketing to promote a safe and healthy experience for travelers and resident consumers amid the COVID-19 public health emergency.

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 $95 in consumer spending for every $1 of 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.

More information about other grants totaling approximately $100 million supporting tourism, entertainment and cultural venues can be found here.