About $ 70 million in American Rescue Plan Act cash has been distributed to nearly 900 hoteliers in Wisconsin to help offset some of their losses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Federal grants of up to $ 2 million each were announced Monday by Gov. Tony Evers, as increasing cases of delta variants prolong problems for the hotel industry.
“Members of the Wisconsin accommodation industry are essential to tourism in our state, and they have been hit very hard by the coronavirus pandemic,” Evers said in a statement.
An additional $ 5 million in grants will be distributed to other hotel operators.
Despite the pandemic, Wisconsin’s tourism industry has supported more than 157,000 jobs statewide and had a $ 17.3 billion impact on the state’s economy in 2020, according to the latest annual report commissioned by the state tourism department.
But, even as more and more people go on vacation, business travel remains on the decline, said Greg Hanis, hospitality industry consultant.
“What we thought was a slow but steady rebound in business travel this fall … operates the new Berlin-based Hospitality Marketers International Inc.
“Plus, there has been a constant tendency to cancel group events this fall,” Hanis told The Sentinel Journal.
Still, most hoteliers believe business and group travel will start to slowly recover in early 2022, he said.
The hospitality industry grants announced by Evers are part of $ 140 million in ARPA funding for Wisconsin’s tourism and entertainment industries.
These include $ 10 million for local tourism investment projects, $ 11.25 million for cinemas, $ 12 million for small live events business, $ 2.8 million for minor league sports teams, $ 10 million for live venues, $ 15 million for destination marketing organizations, $ 8 million for summer camps, $ 1 million for the Wisconsin Historical Society for help reopen historic sites; and $ 7.5 million to increase marketing support for Wisconsin’s tourism industry.