Tourism continues to be EL’s engine of growth

WHAT CHEESE IS TO the city of Plymouth, tourism is to the village of Elkhart Lake.

That is to say, the lifeblood and heart of the local economy – and also continuing to do very well, thank you very much.

The Elkhart Lake Village Board received their annual report from the village’s Tourism Commission last week and, as has been the case for many years now, the news was good.

Tourism Director Kathleen Eickhoff reported that room tax revenue increased again in 2016, extending a long streak of growth in annual revenues, reflecting increased numbers of visitors to the village.

In her report, Eickhoff attributed much of that steady growth to the cooperative efforts of all those involved in the tourism industry, with the wholehearted support of the Village Board.

That cooperative effort has helped the village gain a strong foothold in the highly competitive Milwaukee and Chicago markets, helping to bring back regular visitors and attract many new ones.

It has also supported regular tours of the village and its many attractions for media representatives from across the state, the nation and the world.

Whether those media tours are just showing off the overall attractions in Elkhart Lake, or focus on particular facets such as culinary delights, recreational opportunities and more, their value and impact are priceless.

However, their reach and worth can be measured, as Eickhoff told the board. To date, through newspapers, magazines, websites and more, publicity from the media tours for 240 journalists last year reached an audience of almost 380 million and generated the equivalent of more than $3 million in free advertising for the village.

That’s a huge impact from just a small investment on the part of the Tourism Commission and its partners. But what makes it even more impactful is the many wonderful attributes the tours and the publicity they generate highlight.

In the future, Eickhoff said, the commission and its partners will be focusing on attracting business meetings to the village, especially in the off-season, to build those numbers to a level closer to the huge numbers the village attracts in the summer.

Those numbers continue to “look fantastic,” according to Eickhoff, based on the number of bookings already from visitors coming to Elkhart Lake this summer.

That is thanks to the continued cooperation of all involved in the tourism industry in Elkhart Lake. While the resorts, lodging places and businesses that cater to visitors all compete for their dollars, they are all also wise enough to realize that by working together to promote and advertise Elkhart Lake, they all gain by growing the total tourism pie that they all continue to take bigger – and tastier – slices from.

The impact can be seen beyond just the big resorts. New businesses continue to open and prosper in the village, thanks in large part to the growing volume of visitors, and new development of other important kinds continues as well.

Plymouth calls itself the “Cheese Capital of the World.” While the title “Tourism Capital of the World” may be far too lofty a goal for Elkhart Lake to strive for, the little village on the shore of a picturesque can certainly call itself the “Tourism Capital of Sheboygan County.”

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