The governor and state tourism head have an acronym for their latest pandemic-time economic boost: TRAVEL. That stands for Tourism Relief to Accelerate Vitality and Economic Lift — an $8 million travel grant program to support the tourism industry. On Monday Gov. Tony Evers and Tourism Secretary-designee Sara Meaney announced the grants which will be allocated to tourism promotion and development organizations to help get Wisconsin tourism back on its feet from the hard hits it is taking during the pandemic, so it can restore that key area of the state’s economy.
“The tourism industry is among the hardest hit by COVID-19,” Evers said. “The TRAVEL grants are designed to sustain local operations, staffing, and relief stimulus activities to drive immediate spending and reinforce safe travel in support of local businesses across the state.”
The TRAVEL grants will come in two forms: money to support the continuation of operations, as well as marketing funds that can be used to promote “a safe and healthy experience for travelers and resident consumers” during the public health crisis. Marketing not tied to the pandemic is not eligible.
The funding comes from the federal CARES Act and tourism groups can apply through Sept. 28. Meaney notes that there were 202,217 full- and part-time jobs in the industry in 2019, which was a record year with 113 million visits statewide generating an estimated $22.2 billion in revenue.