Newsmakers, April 6, 2017

Air Date:
Heard On Newsmakers
Daniel Plunkett and Brent Hanifl
Daniel Plunkett and Brent Hanifl Hope Kirwan/WPR

Tourism-related businesses stand to benefit from the recent creation of a Tourism Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

The center which was announced last week, brings together professors from a variety of disciplines at UW-La Crosse who have already been doing tourism research according to Institute director Daniel Plunkett.

“It’s a fairly broad mission,” Plunkett said. “The idea is that with the growth of tourism locally and all over the world, research can be sort of a tool to help organizations better understand their visitors, meet not only the visitor needs, but also the organizational needs as well.”

A report done for the state Department of Tourism said travelers spent almost $12 billion on Wisconsin tourism in 2015, a 4.4 percent increase. In La Crosse County, visitors spent $236 million in 2015 a nearly 5.7 percent increase from the previous year, which put the southwestern Wisconsin county in the top 10 for tourism spending in the state.

Explore La Crosse Marketing Director Brent Hanifl said the new institute could help support tourism businesses with academic research they don’t have the time or ability to do on their own.

“They might be spending $10,000 in advertising,” said Hanifl. “They might be able to look at this information, collect some data and really utilize that money in a proper way to the correct audience.”

Plunkett said some professors and students have already been doing tourism-related research, including a study of trout fishing in the Driftless Area south of La Crosse that provided a profile of who visits the trout streams.

Tourism research, both public and private is common throughout the United States, and Plunkett said the UW-La Crosse institute will set itself apart by being known to tourism businesses in the region.

Episode Credits

  • Hope Kirwan Host
  • John Davis Producer
  • Daniel Plunkett Guest
  • Brent Hanifl Guest