Soaring gas prices could take toll on tourism - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Soaring gas prices could take toll on tourism

Gas prices have spiked again and show no sign of slowing down. The national average price of regular unleaded is up $.12 in the past week, reaching $3.67 per gallon. Experts say seeing the price jump so high in February when demand is relatively low, is unusual. Traditionally gas prices rise anywhere from $.40 to $.60 a gallon in late March through early May. If that happens this year, it could easily send the national average to four dollars a gallon. And that could have an impact on area tourism.

Last year at this time the price per gallon of gas was $.38 lower than what it is right now and more than $.50 higher than what it was just a month ago.

For Cindy Peterson and her husband, this is a getaway.

"Just being outside and breathing fresh air, it's just so beautiful out here," Peterson said.

Every year the couple makes plans to head north for snowmobiling.

"Last year we tried to come up for the same weekend. But, it was too warm to come. There wasn't any snow here, wasn't any snow at home," Peterson explained.

But, this year, thanks to some fresh fallen snow and cold temperatures, the trip was on.

"It's been beautiful, absolutely beautiful."

Since the most recent snow fall, owners at Holiday Acres Resort in Rhinelander say business has already increased.

"When the snow comes, the phone rings," Owner Kari Zambon said.

But now comes a new struggle. Gas prices in Wisconsin are on the rise. Rhinelander tourism officials say that could cause some people to put the breaks on their vacation plans.

"Gas prices are always a concern," Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce Director Lara Reed said.

But, Reed goes on to say that most people do plan for the unexpected.

"Gas prices are something we are always talking about, so I kind of think people who are going to come have already planned that into their budget," Reed said.

And that's welcomed news to area businesses that rely on those tourism dollars.

"Based on the calls that we get and the questions people ask, the weather is our biggest obstacle," Zambon said.

So with snow in the forecast, The Petersons will hit the trails, not letting the high gas prices slow them down.

"We'll be here anyway." 

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