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Oshkosh Tourism Breakfast Highlights Economic Growth–Winnebago County Moves into Top 10 for Visitor Spending

Contact: Wendy Hielsberg
Executive Director, Oshkosh Convention & Visitors Bureau
920-303-9200, wendy@visitoshkosh.com

The Oshkosh Convention & Visitors Bureau (OCVB) hosted its annual Oshkosh Tourism Breakfast today at the Oshkosh Convention Center. Highlights included the release of Winnebago County tourism economic impact data, the presentation of three Partners in Tourism Awards, a special recognition of an Outstanding Tourism Ambassador Award, and a presentation by Deputy Secretary David Fantle of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism.

A study released by the Wisconsin Department of Tourism this week shows visitor spending increased for the second straight year. According to research by Longwoods International and Tourism Economics, the economic impact of tourism in Wisconsin increased 8% statewide to $16 billion.

Travelers to Winnebago County spent $201.7 million in 2011, an increase of 6.38% from the previous year. Among the contributing factors for local tourism growth was a new destination marketing campaign that focused on the area’s unique natural resources and recent hotel and retail developments in the downtown main street district.

“New events and better support for existing events are the main reason for the positive growth,” said Wendy Hielsberg, Oshkosh Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director. “Oshkosh is a convenient and affordable destination for leisure and business travelers and a great place for sportsmen.”

Events new to the area in 2011 include the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Logging Congress (10,000 delegates), the US Open Grass Volleyball Tournament (10,000 delegates), the NCAA Division III Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Championships (2,000 delegates), and fishing tournaments hosted by Masters Walleye Circuit and Wisconsin Team Circuit (1,000 delegates).

Through successful grant acquisitions (Joint Effort Marketing grants from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism) and an increased focus on strategic marketing initiatives the OCVB improved from 17th to 10th out of 72 counties for traveler spending. These expenditures supported 4,615 full-time equivalent jobs and represent $105.7 million in wages and salaries in Winnebago County. Traveler spending also generated $26.7 million for local and state government. Statewide, traveler spending generated $1.3 billion in taxes and $950 million in federal taxes.

“Tourism plays an important role in Oshkosh,” said Hielsberg. “From an economic standpoint, it’s our job to ensure that new people spend time in Oshkosh and that our regular visitors keep coming back.”

Future growth will be achieved by capitalizing on this economic momentum during the busy summer traveler season and by utilizing a strong promotional campaign that continues to define Oshkosh’s brand as Wisconsin’s Event City, she said.

At the annual Oshkosh Tourism Breakfast, the OCVB recognized three individuals for their role in this growth with Partner in Tourism Awards. Recipients were: Chanda Anderson of Caramel Crisp & Café, Darryl Sims of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Athletic Department and Dan Liebhauser of Rock USA. Dirk Binnema received the Tourism Ambassador Award for his work at Cobblestone Inn & Suites.

The OCVB is a private not-for-profit 501(c)(6) corporation that is funded by hotel/motel room tax assessed by local ordinance. In 2011, city room tax collections totaled $1,211,789. Of this total, the OCVB operated on 44% of the room tax collections.

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