Schneider to give county tourism a boost
Tourism has reported only modest growth in Kewaunee County in the last few years and Jennifer Schneider, Kewaunee County’s new tourism coordinator and public information officer, is out to improve those numbers.
For the last few years, direct visitor spending has hovered around $17 million, with total business sales reporting only modest growth from $32 million in 2014 to $32.3 million in 2015, according to Wisconsin Dept. of Tourism figures.
“I don’t think the word is out there about all Kewaunee County has to offer,” said Schneider. “Lots of people are bypassing us.”
Although she is just finishing her first month on the job, Schneider has already established a presence for the county on social media – kewauneecotourism can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
There is also a new Events Page on the current Kewaunee County website.
“My role is about reaching out out and helping everyone – Algoma, Kewaunee, Luxemburg and beyond – generate local revenues,” she said. “We all need to work together and show Wisconsin’s other 71 counties what we are all about and visitors from out of state as well, especially our neighbors in Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota.”
To that end, Schneider is helping to develop a new county website and new signage welcoming visitors to the county. She also will be putting together day trips for visitors based on their interests, which will be located on-line as well as in print.
“There are so many great things to do here in Kewaunee County,” she said. “First of all we have Lake Michigan, as well as charter fishing, the Ahnapee State Trail and portions of the Ice Age Trail, bird watching, Crescent Beach and boardwalk, Selner Beach.”
She also noted the great restaurants, wineries, art galleries, antiques, boutiques and festivals. The Ahnapee Brewery is an important draw, as will be the Thumb Knuckle Brewing Co. in Luxemburg scheduled to open later this year, she said.
In addition, there is a great ATV park and other county parks, including a zoo and mountain biking trails. There are also opportunities to canoe and kayak on the Ahnapee and other rivers.
Schneider is also enthusiastic about the a growing list of festivals – from the new Fourth of July celebration in Kewaunee to the Soar on the Shore in Algoma, and the traditional ones like Shanty Days, Wet Whistle Fest, and Czech and Kolache Fest.
“We want people to stop on their way to Door County and make Kewaunee County a travel destination as well,” she said..
Schneider points out that both her Manitowoc roots and her professional experience allow her to bring important skills to the job. Born and raised in Manitowoc, she graduated from Valders High School and obtained an associate degree from UW-Manitowoc and a bachelor’s degree from University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, majoring in journalism with an emphasis in advertising and public relations.
After college, she spent eight years producing a one-hour local news programs in Green Bay at WFRV-TV Local 5 News. She then worked for about two years as an executive producer of a three-hour morning newscast in the South Bend, Ind., area.
“My job was to attract viewers and keep them coming back,” said Schneider. “And that’s exactly what I am going to do here as well with visitors.”
In her first month, Schneider has been out in the community meeting with local chamber of commerce representatives, business owners, and civic and government officials..
“This is a brand new position and adventure for the county,” she said. “It needs to start with laying a foundation.”
She will be developing a plan to present to the County Board later this year, as well as a budget.
“I want people to know that I am here as a resource for them,” she said.
In the meantime, she is not shy about offering tips for the county’s businesses who want to attract more tourists.
“Today, it is important for businesses to follow themselves on Yelp,” she said. “People plan their trips around ratings on Yelp. If a restaurant has bad reviews, people won’t try it versus customers who have had rave reviews.”
One of the most important events for tourism this year will be a visit by Gov. Scott Walker or Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch for the groundbreaking of the Kewaunee Harbor project on July 29. The new boardwalk and seawall, as well as the redesign of Harbor Park, are expected to bring more tourists to the city of Kewaunee’s lakefront.
“The list of ways to increase tourism here is endless,” she said. “And hopefully, we will not only bring more people here as visitors, but possibly as lifelong residents as well.”
– Karen Ebert Yancey can be reached at [email protected], on Facebook at Kewaunee County Star News Facebook, on Twitter at @EbertYancey or by calling 920-559-1235.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press Gazette: Schneider to give county tourism a boost