Eau Claire on pace for record tourism year - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Eau Claire on pace for record tourism year

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Eau Claire (WQOW)- Country Jam is not only is it a lot of fun for family and friends, but it also makes a huge economic impact here in Eau Claire.  That impact is part of the reason Eau Claire is having a tourism year it won't soon forget.

"It's almost like the growth is infectious for more growth," says Visit Eau Claire Executive Director Linda John.

Eau Claire is having a tourism year to remember.

"We are on pace for a record year this year," John points out.  "One of our lead indicators at this point is room tax collections.  And so for January through May of this year, we are up 4.5 percent."

Let's break down county tourism numbers to get a broader scope of the industry.  26 percent of the revenue comes from lodging, 25 percent from food, 21 percent from shopping, 15 percent from transportation and 13 percent from recreation.  And the biggest tourism attraction the county has to offer?

"Country Jam, along with the other music festivals has really put us on the map," John explains.

"Country Jam has always been a family thing so I guess that's why I come," says Danielle Peterson from the music festival.

"I'm from Whitehall Wisconsin and I've been coming for four years off and on," remembers Allison Anderson.  "I just like coming to hang out with people, wear my cowboy boots and my dress and enjoy the weather I guess."

City festivals are another huge contributor to tourism dollars and let's not forget athletics.

"We are just a hot bed for sports.  We go after sports at a national and international level and we are just a great destination because when people come, they don't just want to do the soccer tournament," says John.  "They want to experience the community as well and because we are such a family destination, that really works out very well for us."

We asked John how tourism has changed in the 20 years since she started working.  She said it's no longer about the 1-800 number and pamphlets.  It now centers on easy access; which means attracting tourists through websites and social media.

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