MILWAUKEE – A coalition of tourism officials asked Wisconsinites to hesitate to reconsider COVID-19 vaccine.

“We went around giving baked goods and cookies to our neighboring companies,” said Peggy Williams-Smith, CEO of Visit Milwaukee. “The faster our city gets closer to herd immunity, the faster we can do what we love, who we love with.”

Wisconsin tourism spending declined by around 30%, or around $ 4 billion, in 2020. In an average year, the industry generates approximately $ 14 billion in revenue for the state. Spending declined from $ 13.6 billion in 2019 to $ 9.8 billion last year.

Of the hardest hit areas, Milwaukee lost approximately $ 1 billion in direct spending due to the cancellation of major festivals and events such as summer party, the Democratic National Convention and the Wisconsin State Fair. Two of these three events have already announced plans to return this summer.

“Tourism is an integral part of the Wisconsin economy and will recover,” said Tourism Secretary Ann Sayers. “Travelers take revenge on missed vacations and reconnect with friends and family by discovering the unexpected in Wisconsin.”

Sayers says that despite a difficult 2020, she is optimistic for 2021.

National research shows that 86% of Americans said they’d want to travel this year. Sayers noted that the two-night vacations that have already surpassed 2020 and are well on the way to breaking the 2019 record.

To get back to where we were before the pandemic, Williams-Smith says heavy vaccination numbers will be required.

“Research shows that visitors are not only interested in places with strong COVID-19 practices, but also want to visit communities where vaccination rates are high,” she said. “In order for people to feel completely safe, it is extremely important for us to talk about how safe they can be in restaurants, bars, hotels and to get back to some semblance of normalcy.”

According to the Wisconsin Department of HealthMore than 42% of eligible Wisconsinites have been vaccinated at least partially against COVID-19, while 35% of people have completed their vaccination cycle.