The Greater Richland Area Continues To Be Attractive To Visitors!

From past information we have shared we know the travel season to the Greater Richland area was exceptional in 2021. A short time ago we shared a "tourist dollars spent" report from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue and Wisconsin Tourism proving just that idea. That report shared that Richland County outpaced 37 other counties in Wisconsin by recovering from the COVID downturn of 2020 and exceeded the highest amount of tourism dollars ever spent in the Richland County area in 2019.

2022 has all of the indications that it too has been an extremely busy time for the Greater Richland area with visitors coming to check out the unique events and experiences all spring, summer, and fall. There are a couple of different measuring sticks we can use mid-year to review how visitor volume has been tracking and what we can expect for the rest of the year. The first method is by simply talking with local tourism-related businesses and events such as lodging operators, entertainment-related businesses, event organizers, and others. From those discussions with many of our local tourism-related businesses the indications are visitors have continued to increase to the area with many of those businesses indicating 2022 was as good, or better, than they had planned.

Another accurate and helpful indicator of visitor traffic to our area is the analytics of some of the short-term rental platforms that offer local lodging options to visitors. The image here is from one of those platforms that actively offers local private lodging options to visitors. This platform's analytics indicates searches in our area just for the month of October are 52% higher than in 2021. This means potential visitors to our area have dramatically increased their searches for lodging stays. We have been watching this indicator all year. Routinely it has shown increases in searches somewhere between 22 and 42% for lodging in the Greater Richland area. That 52% figure is not an outlier, just a continued growth of that interest that has existed since January in the Greater Richland area.

What's really interesting here is typically by October a high percentage of our urban visitor traffic has already occurred, our events that attract visitors have passed, and we are starting to see more family and holiday travelers looking for lodging on family visits. In past years this has proven to be a smaller group than our spring, summer, and fall travel, which includes higher numbers of visitors who do not have other connections to the area. What this graphic tells us is that urban and suburban travelers are continuing to look to our area to escape the anxiety of their daily lives, even in cooler weather!

In the past, conventional thought was that it takes large events to attract visitors to our area. Large events are important and valuable, however, we are quickly becoming a location for urban and suburban dwellers to simply remove themselves from the anxiety and fast-paced day-to-day activities of their daily lives. Our everyday tourism-related businesses that offer unique experiences also draw those travelers to our area and there are many parts to this discussion. There isn't one single event, activity, or weekend, that creates success when discussing how we can increase visitor travel to our area. It is the whole experience of the Greater Richland area, 365 days a year, and our efforts to communicate this offering to those potential visitors.

When asked what they would attribute the increased visitor travel to the Greater Richland area to, Travel Wisconsin representatives mention the efforts of Richland Center Tourism, along with some of our large event offerings, the resource of friendly people and businesses, unique lodging and experiences, and as always our attractive hills and valleys. These factors all play into the tourism growth we are experiencing. This in turn brings more people and revenue to our area for our businesses, and potentially it may bring more residents to our area. It isn't a single activity or effort, but all of the different efforts working in concert, have now spurred the increased visitor traffic to the Richland area and is continuing that effect even into the fall and winter!

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