On May 10, Kenosha’s Civil War Museum was host to a breakfast for the State Secretary of Tourism, Stephanie Klett, and her Deputy Secretary, Dave Fantele. As someone involved in the arts, I was particularly interested in hearing what Klett and Fantele had to say since the Wisconsin Arts Board was recently put under the Department of Tourism instead of retaining its own department. Klett, who was previously the host of Discover Wisconsin, praised Kenosha’s Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, “Kenosha has a CVB like very few in the state,” she said, “I wish I could clone this group!” Turns out, no CVB has received more JEM grants than our Kenosha CVB! And that day was no exception. The Civil War Museum received a grant for $19,500 and the CVB got a year 2 Destination JEM award for $39,417.
Dave Fantele, a founding member of Film Wisconsin, spoke of how impressed he is with how Kenosha has transformed the lakefront with museums and more. He spoke of the importance of marketing and how it’s not just for the townspeople but to draw in new visitors. Fantele saw up the Bronze Fonze in Milwaukee as a draw for the area. “We need the mayors and elected officials to be our cheerleaders,” Fantele says.
After accepting the positions offered to them by Walker, Klett and Fantele immediately sat down and created a four year strategic plan and a new mission statement. Tourism is focusing on Wisconsin as FUN! – affordable prices for all ages. The new campaign will be unveiled any day now. “Tourism is a big, fun business,” says Fantele. 292,000 people are employed in tourism jobs and 1.37 billion was spent by visitors in 2010. Tourism increases quality of life and creates jobs. The Department of Tourism is working with the DNR, Labor and Transportation Departments. They are putting travel features out nationally, but focusing direct marketing to IL, IA, MI, and MN.
As for the Arts Board, Klett and Fantele assured the audience that they are working closely with board president George Tzourous to continue getting money for the arts and using arts as an incentive for tourism.