Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Tourism: ‘No-Snow’ emergency

The Wisconsin Department of Tourism has declared a “No-Snow” emergency for the state, effective immediately. Under this state of emergency, no one will have to keep their car off the street, no plows will be dispatched and no school days will be cancelled, because … well, because there’s no snow.

“We’re in the midst of the most dire economic crisis the North has seen in a long time,” said Wisconsin Secretary of Tourism Kevin Shibiliski.

Shibiliski declared the “No-Snow” emergency in response to dried-up tourism due to an utter lack of snowfall. The shortage has caused winter tourism meccas in Wisconsin to look like ghost towns.

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“Winter recreational activities are a huge part of the whole state’s economy,” Shibiliski said.

Shibiliski said the Department of Tourism estimates this season to be down 20 percent in profits. This means that out of an average seasonal profit of $3 billion, the state economy has suffered a loss of about $600 million.

“Where it hurts most is in the mom-and-pop operations, small businesses like motels, restaurants and taverns, as well as niche activities — the people that cater to snowmobilers and snowshoers,” Shibiliski said.

Shibiliski said the department was redirecting its advertising to major markets such as Chicago and Minneapolis to remind people there are a variety of non-snow-related activities in a Wisconsin winter, such as urban and cultural tourism.

Josef Haas, general manager at the Kalahari Resort and Indoor Water Park in the Wisconsin Dells, said his hotel was one of the businesses not affected by the lack of snow.

“We recently opened an expansion which made us the largest indoor water park in the country, and we received a lot of coverage for that,” Haas said. “In a way, I think the lack of snow might help us because people don’t have to battle the elements and snow drifts to get here.”

Haas said the Kalahari would host the Governor’s Conference on Tourism March 16-18, where top-level tourism officials will discuss issues facing state tourists.

Shibiliski said although there are endless non-snow winter tourism options in the state, Wisconsin still depends on snowbound activities to bring in winter tourists.

“We need the snow, and in the end, this is Wisconsin, and the snow will come,” Shibiliski said. “The minute snow arrives, we will deluge the market with the good news.”

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