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From the left are Evy Nerbonne, Carla Timmerman, representing the Hudson Hot Air Affair, Secretary of Health Services Kitty Rhoades, Kim Heinemann and Mary Weller from the Hudson Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau. Submitted photo

Hudson delegation attends tourism conference in Madison

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Shifting from winter to the other seasons, the Wisconsin Governor's Conference and Tourism wrapped up March 19. The event's location which rotates around the state was held in Madison this year.

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"The governor's tourism conference is known as being the largest in the United States," said Hudson Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau President Kim Heinemann. "There were nearly 1,000 attendees from tourism bureaus, convention bureaus, lodging properties and attractions. It really includes any industry that is touched by tourism."

"Tourism in the state of Wisconsin is a $16 billion industry and the return is six dollars for every dollar invested," said Heinemann. "It is a lucrative industry and a job generator. It is a customer service industry and the governor recognizes the power of tourism. The governor and all of the legislators support tourism because it is an economic driver."

The conference's theme and the theme for the spring and summer advertising campaign is "the power of fun!" And fun it is, starting with a television spot directed by David Zucker and Robert Hays, who directed the comedy "Airplane." The campaign was unveiled during the conference held at Monona Terrace Convention Center March 17 through 19. The two major markets for the state are the Chicago area and the Twin Cities Metro.

"Now that the Twin Cities Metro is the second largest market for tourism in Wisconsin, our location makes us a major gateway," said Heinemann. "We offer destination travel, day trips and more. The ad campaign includes television commercials, print media and innovative marketing."

"During the conference the St. Croix River Crossing (bridge) was referenced a number of times as a plus when it came to expanding the tourism industry in northwestern Wisconsin," said Heinemann.

Also attending the conference, from the area were Mary Weller, of the Hudson Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau, and Evy Nerbonne and Carla Timmerman representing the Hudson Hot Air Affair.

"The conference is a way for us to connect with our peers in the industry from throughout the state," said Heinemann. "The speakers were fantastic including tourism secretary Stephanie Klatt."

Breakout sessions included topics such as social media and marketing, how to overcome natural disasters, employee recognition and many others.

One area that was highlighted included the recent partnership of four communities to reopen a visitor's center in Menominee, after the Hudson visitor's center closed.

Together, Hudson, Menominee, Chippewa Falls and Eau Claire teamed up in partnership with the WisDot to open the new center.

"It is 45 miles in state so it is not the ideal gateway for Hudson," said Heinemann. "However it is an opportunity to attract westbound traffic. We can capture our visitor's interest before they get to us. The success of the partnership was noted many times during the conference."

It is safe to say that those who attended the annual conference returned to their communities ready to continue the promotion and welcome visitors to Wisconsin, which is a major vacation destination for many in the upper Midwest.

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