Elkhart Lake continues to compete in tourism industry

I T OFTEN SEEMS THAT an appropriate story for tourism in Elkhart Lake might be “The Little Engine that Could.”

Tourism is the little village’s biggest industry and a major part of its economy.

It’s a growth industry, contributing more than $1 trillion to the U.S. economy every year.

Elkhart Lake has lots of competition for tourism dollars and nearly all of it is bigger players – like Door County and Wisconsin Dells, to name a few.

But David-like Elkhart Lake continues to stand tall and hold its ground – even gain ground – against the many tourism Goliaths surrounding it.

In her annual report to the Elkhart Lake Village Board earlier this month, Tourism Director Kathleen Eickhoff told the trustees that tourism growth continues to be strong in the village.

So strong, in fact, that the Tourism Commission is a year ahead of its five-year goal set in 2012 to achieve 20 percent growth in tourism revenue in the village.

Elkhart Lake is on pace to hit that target at the end of 2015, instead of 2016 as originally set.

The reasons for that success are many and credit belongs to a number of people and businesses.

It all starts, of course, with the natural charm and beauty of the village and the crystal-clear waters of Elkhart Lake, which offer numerous attractions and activities to draw visitors – and draw them back. Add in other attractions in the area, like Road America, the Wade House, the Kettle Moraine and more, and it creates a package that makes Elkhart Lake a desirable destination.

The opening of The Osthoff resort several decades ago helped kick off a renaissance of the tourism industry in the village and the other resorts and businesses in Elkhart Lake have been aggressive in taking advantage of and further fueling that rebirth.

Village and business officials have been wise to recognize the importance of tourism to the local economy and have been proactive in supporting and promoting tourism.

Tourism officials have been innovative in making their limited resources go as far as possible. Just one example would be the regular hosting of tours for travel and food journalists, which have generated millions of dollars of publicity – and unpaid advertising – for the village, reaching audiences that the Tourism Commission could not reach on its own with its limited resources.

The result is a growing tourism industry that benefits all in Elkhart Lake.

The growth is evident in expansions at The Osthoff, Road America and elsewhere that will only enhance the village as a destination.

Tourism officials and businesses continue to focus on areas that can be built on and where growth is possible, such as weddings, business meetings and weekday stays.

Given the past track record, those areas should grow in the future and help make tourism even stronger in Elkhart Lake.

It’s all part of the “I know I can” spirit that fuels Elkhart Lake’s tourism industry. David may not bring down all the Goliaths, but he will certainly continue to stand tall among them.

At issue:
Tourism in Elkhart Lake
Bottom line:

Growing stronger

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