Quietly, Langlade County's investments in tourism promotion appear to be paying off.
While still lagging the northwoods powerhouses of Vilas and Oneida counties, state Department of Tourism numbers show a steady gain in the number of visitors and dollars spent here.
The most recent state report shows that visitors spent $43.6 million in Langlade County in 2010, up $3 million, or 7.2 percent, from 2009.
"It is awesome that we increased and I think it's a reflection on the promotion and hard work on the part of everyone working in and for the recreation industry locally," Chris Berry, director of the Community Development Corporation said. "Our next goal is to move up in the rankings."
That increase comes at a time when tourism overall was stagnant, with only a 1.8 percent increase statewide.
Tourism dollars actually fell 1.46 percent in Oneida County and only rose 1.29 percent in Vilas County, but those areas still lead the region dramatically overall. Oneida saw tourism revenues of $202 million in 2010 while Vilas posted figures of $255 million.
According to the report released by the Department of Tourism, signs of recovery in the tourism industry actually began in spring 2010. As the year went on, consumer confidence gained traction and traveler spending showed greater increases each season.
Locally, Langlade County saw across-the-board increases, with winter numbers improving 5 percent, spring receipts by 3.67 percent, summer by 8.33 percent and fall up 9.7 percent.
“Tourism is part of Wisconsin’s economic foundation and its continued growth is a priority for my administration because of the nearly 300,000 jobs it supports, the tax revenues it generates and the positive image it projects for the state," Governor Scott Walker said. "Even after a difficult economic recession where family budgets remained tight, travelers continued to choose Wisconsin for fun and relaxation.”
The study noted that tourism supported 291,964 full-time equivalent jobs in 2010, gaining 5,500 jobs over 2009. Langlade County tourism accounted for 1,030 full-time equivalent jobs, up 9.11 percent.
Tourism also added $1.37 billion to state coffers in tax revenues. Local tax revenues for Langlade County topped $2 million, up 7.77 percent.
“The Tourism Department will support this recovery by remaining focused on our primary mission to promote the state through effective marketing and supporting the work of our statewide tourism partners,” Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett said. “We know from new research that for every dollar spent on our summer and fall 2010 advertising campaign Wisconsin received $7 in state and local taxes from incremental traveler spending. This return on investment makes a strong case for the role of effective marketing to grow the state’s tourism economy and create jobs for our residents.”
Berry said that as spring advances, more and more people are out riding all-terrain vehicles, kayaking, biking and taking advantage of what the "County of Trails" has to offer.
"I think we'll have a pretty good summer up here," she said. "With the fuel prices, our radius of where visitors travel from may get a little smaller, but people will still travel to relax and recreate."