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Outdoor recreation maintained the Coulee Region's tourism economy during pandemic and predicted to continue improving afterwards

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A University of La Crosse study shows that tourism in the Coulee Region survived because of outdoor activities.

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - A University of La Crosse study shows that tourism in the Coulee Region survived because of outdoor activities.

Though it still took a hit, local travel persisted because of diverse river, bluff and outdoor restaurant scenery in and near La Crosse.

UW-La Crosse Recreation Management Director Dan Plunkett partnered with Explore La Crosse to study travelers in the area--and answer tough questions.

"Should we even be telling people to come travel here now?'' Plunkett recalls. "La Crosse faired probably above average maybe not necessarily the best but we saw places like Door County of course have a lot of outdoor draw to them did better as well maybe not great of course during a pandemic but better than if we solely relied on indoor activities from a tourism perspective."

He cited activities like hiking, bicycling and paddle boarding.

La Crosse Parks and Recreation Director Jay Odegaard said boat landing use is up 40%.

"You know people are traveling but traveling closer to home so they're not going on the cruise lines, going overseas, they're not taking those summer vacations to maybe Florida or Mexico or something like that so they're staying here," Odegaard said. "They're investing those recreation dollars so to speak into more local atmospheres."

Odegaard also said people picked up outdoor sports like skiing and golf.  He said city owned golf course Forest Hills is doing very well financially.

"They can get outside," he said. "They tried it, liked it and when out to purchase clubs well now they're not just going to quit they enjoy it."

Plunkett and Odegaard both predicted that the outdoor recreation trend will go up even after the pandemic subsides.

A University of La Crosse study shows that tourism in the Coulee Region survived because of outdoor activities.

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