MADISON (Dec. 4, 2019) – Members of the Governor’s Council on Tourism were greeted today with news that key indicators suggest a banner year for Wisconsin tourism. Secretary-designee Sara Meaney revealed the exciting news that growth in a key taxable sales indicator for the first three quarters of 2019 more than doubled the three-year year-over-year average increase. The Governor’s Council on Tourism meeting agenda also included discussion of a Meaney-initiated top-to-bottom legal review of council procedures and the election of a new executive board.

Department of Revenue data shows historic increases in taxable sales for entertainment and leisure. Increases during quarters 1-3 of the three previous years averages about 4 percent. The 2019 increase more than doubled to 9.28 percent. Meanwhile, the department’s internal tracking metrics indicate the 2019 summer campaign saw a 22 percent increase in exposed arrivals. “Exposed arrivals” is a tracking metric from a control group and reflects individuals who were both exposed to and interacted with the department’s online advertising and later traveled more than 90 miles from their home to a Wisconsin destination. Meaney applauded the department’s emphasis on digital content optimization, which expanded web ads from 30 different variations in the summer of 2018 to 1,945 in the summer of 2019, serving up more individualized content to prospective travelers.

“I want to thank my team for having faith in my leadership and marketing experience,” said Meaney. “It’s amazing what we can accomplish together utilizing data, technology and travel trend research.”

During the meeting, Meaney also thanked Senator André Jacque, who first raised concerns about council procedures that span several administrations. As a result, Meaney explained she initiated a top-to-bottom legal review of the council’s practices. Reforms already uncovered by the ongoing review include eliminating electronic voting outside of a public meeting, clarifying that ex-officio members may vote and that quorum of the council consists of 11 members.

“I’m grateful to Senator Jacque for notifying us of the issues he observed. Upon notification of his concerns, I immediately called for a top-to-bottom legal review of the agency’s operations,” said Meaney.

Wisconsin’s tourism industry is a $21.6 billion driver of the Badger State’s economy. Meaney expressed optimism to the advisory council during the meeting that the positive preliminary successes coupled with reforming decades-long internal procedures will put the department on the path to see tremendous growth in an important job-creating industry.