Recreation key driver for state

MADISON — The Wisconsin Department of Tourism’s Office of Outdoor Recreation recently released its economic report — “Outdoor Recreation: A Top Driver of Wisconsin’s Economy.”

“Wisconsin has long valued our vast outdoor recreation offerings, and this report leaves no doubt about the veracity, weight and importance of outdoor recreation’s economic impact in our state,” said Secretary-designee Sara Meaney in a news release. “The outdoors is consistently a top driver of tourism in Wisconsin, and while travel has taken a big hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, outdoor recreation has been essential to keeping communities healthy and economically viable.”

Wisconsin ranks fifth among U.S. states for share of jobs in outdoor recreation manufacturing and is home to headquarters and manufacturing facilities of dozens of well-known outdoor brands including Bending Branches, Burger Boat Co., Harley-Davidson, Johnson Outdoors, Mercury Marine, Mathews Archery, MirroCraft Boats, Pacific-Cycle, Planet Bike, Saris, St. Croix Rods, Trek Bicycles, Vortex Optics, Wigwam and Yamaha.

“Silent sport enthusiasts alone inject about $14.7 million to Ashland, Bayfield and Sawyer counties,” said Ben Popp, American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation executive director, in the release. “The four-day Birkie events draw tens of thousands to our communities in January, but those participants and fans return at other points throughout the year contributing to this major impact.”

Rounding out the report is an acknowledgement of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the industry.

“Even though Wisconsin’s economy was hit hard, we’ve seen positive indicators of resiliency in sectors of the outdoor recreation economy,” said Meaney. “Outdoor recreation is in the fabric of our state and will prove to be a key driver of economic recovery for Wisconsin.”

Visit for the complete report.

N.Y. wants visitors to test

New York state, tightening restrictions in the face of rising infections nationwide, is now requiring most U.S. visitors to pass two COVID-19 tests with a three-day quarantine in between.

The new requirement takes effect today. It means a visitor from another U.S. state (except those whose borders touch New York) will need to test negative within three days of departure from that state. Then, upon arrival in New York state, the visitor must quarantine for three days.

On the fourth day, the visitor must be tested again. If both test results are negative, the visitor’s quarantine obligations end. Essential workers are exempted. If a visitor takes no tests, a 14-day quarantine is required.

Though Broadway theaters and most performing arts venues remain shuttered, many of Manhattan’s best-known attractions have reopened in recent weeks, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, the Empire State Building, the American Museum of Natural History and the High Line.

Norwegian extends cruise hiatus

The world’s third largest cruise company said Monday it will not resume sailing at least through Dec. 31.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings issued a news release saying its three brands — Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises — would extend its current suspension from Dec. 1 to Dec. 31.

On Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lifted a ban in place since mid-March that prohibited passenger sailings in U.S. waters. Lines will first have to follow a series of complex protocols — some suggested by the lines themselves — to protect both passengers and crew. Those include passenger and crew testing, trial sailings proving the new measures are effective, and agreements with ports regarding land-based medical care.

In its Monday statement, Norwegian said it would “continue to work in tandem with global government and public health authorities and its (own health) expert advisers to take all necessary measures to protect its guests, crew and the communities visited.”

Safety key concern for travelers

Consumers planning trips for the upcoming holiday season are putting airline health and safety protocols and flexibility before cost, according to a new survey by The Points Guy.

Thirty-one percent of respondents said “strict mask compliance on board” was of the utmost importance, while 10% said “airlines following proper cleaning protocols/frequency of aircraft cleaning,” 10% said “empty middle seats to distance travelers,” with 6% citing “flexible cancellation policies.”

Just one in five respondents (21%) noted they were “concerned about the price of airfare, rather than individual health precautions. The rest either don’t know (16%) or have some other priority (6%),” according to the survey.

In general terms, Generation Z (ages 18-23) and millennials (ages 24-39) are “most likely to travel for the upcoming holiday season at 30% and 24%, respectively,” the survey found.

Meanwhile, respondents planning holiday trips “are more than twice as likely to drive versus fly,” with 90% somewhat likely to drive as opposed to 42% who are somewhat likely to fly. Only 18% of respondents said it’s “somewhat likely” they would choose train travel.

Of those respondents planning holiday trips, 38% said it will be their first since the pandemic’s initial outbreak.

“With many travelers making their first trip since lockdown, it is important to make sure you’re prepared, because the travel experience has changed significantly,” said Melanie Lieberman, senior travel editor at The Points Guy. “You’ll want to have a backup plan in case your plane or train is overcrowded; follow social distancing guidelines by staying at least six feet away from others; make sure you’ve packed all the necessities (masks, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes); and understand the cancellation and rebooking policies.”

From staff reports and news services