Numerous factors add up to a strong summer
BY EILEEN PERSIKE
More visitors have stopped by or called the Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce over the past four months than did over the same period in 2015. Add to that a 33-percent increase in the number of RACC visitor guides, and that adds up to a strong summer.
“From our experience, we were up,” said RACC director Bill Clow. “Some months our visitor center traffic was up significantly. Anecdotally, there have been reports of more traffic and busier stores.”
While Clow chalks up some of the increase in phone calls to people trying to navigate the Streetscape construction downtown, he said they have received an increase in people asking about hiking and biking trails, which is an “interesting trend.”
“Gas prices have been good, which makes for long weekend trips up north more affordable,” Clow said. “We’re an easy drive from several metro areas, which benefits the Rhinelander area.”
Room tax revenue, which to a certain extent reflects the number of people staying in hotels and resorts in Rhinelander, were up a “fair amount” for the second quarter. The month of June, according to Clow has been a good month for the past few years.
Construction workers, who by day work on the downtown Rhinelander street improvement project, in the evenings stay in area hotels and eat in area restaurants. That’s one of the “plus sides of construction.” The other side of construction was the challenge downtown merchants faced when roads were impassable and the dust kept visitors at bay.
Downtown events like the Beach Party, Redikulus Dae and the Hodag for President Campaign helped draw shoppers to the construction zones.
“The Rhinelander Tourism Marking Committee sat down and thought about what we can do to help downtown,” Clow said. “The Hodag for President Campaign started as almost a joke, but we worked with our marketing agency and came up with the bottons, bumper stickers and yard signs, which were only available from downtown businesses. It really encouraged traffic downtown.”
The trends have been inching upward when it comes to fall and early winter visitors, which Clow says are positive signs along with the strong summer, good gas prices and an improving downtown.