STAR JOURNAL REPORT
The Oneida County Tourism Council was awarded a Joint Effort Marketing (JEM) grant from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism to help the council’s rebranding research. Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett stopped in Rhinelander to present the check, totaling $39,550.
“We love this application because it’s about branding,” Klett said. “Since (the State Tourism Department) changed our brand, based it on research and got away from slogans, we’re up $5.3 billion, 35 percent so we know that once you embark on this, the same thing is going to happen.”
Rhinelander, Minocqua area, Hazelhurst, Lake Tomahawk, Pelican Lake, Rhinelander Resorts, St. Germain, Tomahawk and Three Lakes make up the OCTC. Council president Krystal Westfahl said the reason people visit the area may be different from what council members assume.
“What are trying to do is to figure out exactly who our actual visitor is currently and develop our brand around that,” Westfahl explained. “We’re trying to figure out, one, are they coming here because they want to do more outdoor sports, are they here for our attractions, are they here for lodging, because they love an awesome Old Fashioned and this is the only place they can get it? We want to wrap our brand around that and encourage new visitors with that information.”
The JEM is a matching grant for which the OCTC can reapply for two additional years. Westfahl said research has already begun, with the council’s chambers of commerce and tourism offices asking people what attracts them to the Oneida County area.
“Getting a JEM grant means you have a great idea and you’re going to follow through,” Klett added. “This is all about growing the tourism economy.”