Surprising growth in EL tourism a good sign

IT WAS A BETTER than anticipated year for tourism in Elkhart Lake in 2012. And that, it is hoped, is the beginning of an extended upward trend for the village’s primary business.

Director of Tourism Kathleen Eickhoff had some good numbers, for a change, in her annual report to the Village Board last week. She reported that overnight sales at the resorts, hotels, and bed and breakfasts in the village jumped 11 percent last year – a welcome and, she admitted, unexpected increase after several years of no growth or even declines.

Tourism is just one of many industries that took a severe hit in the economic downturn that began in 2008. While some are beginning to recover, others still remain sluggish.

It’s good to see that local tourism, at least in Elkhart Lake, is one of those showing signs of apparent recovery.

That’s good for those in the tourism business, of course, but it’s also good for the village as a whole and for the entire area as well.

There are many reasons for the tourism bounce back.

Foremost, of course, is the innate charm and attraction of Elkhart Lake as a tourism attraction. The combination of crystal clear lake waters, small-town charm and proximity to a wide variety of natural and man-made attractions make for a unique destination, one that more and more people are coming to appreciate.

But all of that needs to be sold, to entice new visitors to come and old visitors to return to

Elkhart Lake.

That job has fallen primarily on the Elkhart

Lake Tourism Commission, Eickhoff and her staff.

The numbers bear out the tremendous work they have done in that regard.

Working with the resorts and other local businesses, partnering with regional agencies and outside professionals, they have gotten Elkhart Lake the greatest bang for its tourism promotion dollars in the battle against larger, better-funded destinations like Door County, Wisconsin Dells and others.

They have an outstanding product to sell, of course, and the product will only get better with improvements in the village and throughout the region, from the newly-reopened Feed Mill Market to the new welcome center and carriage museum at the nearby Wade House Historic Site.

But it seems certain that Eickhoff and her staff – and all the people involved in tourism in Elkhart Lake – will not be resting on their laurels or improved numbers.

They will be working hard to keep the momentum going and growing in the right direction.

At issue:
Elkharl Lake tourism income
Bottom line:
Moving in the right direction

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