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Gov. Evers takes on history, tourism and travel

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EAU CLAIRE (WQOW) - It's been a tough year for tourism for the Badger State, but things are starting to look up. To ring in national Tourism and Travel Week in Wisconsin, Gov. Evers and the First Lady took a trip of their own-right to Eau Claire's backyard.

The first stop on the Evers' list was the Chippewa Valley Museum. In a place dedicated to history, it's only fair to make some of their own. Only in this case, the museum's worst drop in visitors ever.

When asked by the Governor how hard the virus impacted the museum's ability to drive revenue, Curator and Director Carrie Ronnander said they reported a 90% drop in visitors over the course of the pandemic.

"We typically get about 4,000 students. Last year we got 433," said Ronnander, "It's forced us to learn different ways to exist."

According to Visit Eau Claire, the city lost millions of dollars and thousands of jobs last year due to the lack of events tourism draws. At the peak of the pandemic, Benny Anderson, Executive Director of Visit Eau Claire, said tourism was down 83%.

Gov. Evers assured small businesses and tourist sites on Thursday that with vaccines and federal recovery money, COVID-19's lasting effects on tourism will soon be, much like the museum, left in the past.

"Its difficult when you can't bring people together to enjoy the history of the Chippewa Valley. We will recover, it will be a slow progression but we will recover," said Gov. Evers.

From the uptick in vaccinations, Eau Claire has recovered to the point where tourism is down 30%, a significant improvement from last year.

"Every tourism dollar that comes in--depending on which economic calculator you use, gets re-spent in the city 7 to 12 times" said Anderson.

The National Travel Advisory says research shows that 87% of Americans plan to travel in the next six months.

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Alyssa Lyons

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