Shawano Lake tops attractions in tourism survey

Visitors spent nearly $63M in county last year

Shawano Lake remains the area’s top tourist attraction, according to a tourism destination assessment recently released by the Shawano Country Chamber of Commerce.

The report was put together by the Shawano Country Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Council with the help of the state Department of Tourism.

In addition to Shawano Lake, other top area assets cited by visitors included the Wolf River, casinos, the area’s rustic atmosphere, dining, Twig’s Sun Drop Museum, barn quilts and friendly people.

Empty buildings and a lack of shopping opportunities were viewed as the area’s biggest weaknesses.

“Most of these should not be a surprise to us, but it’s a good reminder from visitors that this is why they are coming to our area,” said Nancy Smith, the chamber’s executive director.

Smith shared the report with the Shawano Common Council at a meeting last week.

“The reason why it’s so important to us is because tourism is important,” she said. “It’s important to our businesses, to the city and to residents.”

Visitors spent $61.9 million in Shawano County in 2015, Smith said, supporting 886 jobs.

That spending figure is up slightly from $60.2 million in 2014 and up from $56.7 million the year before, according to the report.

The report did not include Menominee County numbers, but, according to information provided by the chamber, visitors spent $2.4 million in Menominee County in 2014 and $2.5 million in 2015.

Smith said the chamber and tourism council were working to increase the number of visitors to the area.

“In order to grow tourism in Shawano and promote our area effectively, it’s important to understand our visitors,” she said, “Who they are, where they’re coming from, what they like to do when they’re here, how they heard about us, what they like, what they don’t like. This assessment helped us gather that information.”

Chamber and tourism officials surveyed 430 people over the course of the summer of last year, including visitors and residents, Smith said.