Low snowfall equals catastrophic losses for Northwoods’ businesses

CONTACT: Krystal Westfahl
Let’s Minocqua Visitors Bureau/Oneida County Tourism Council
krystal@minocqua.org, (715) 356-5266
MINOCQUA, Wis. (January 29, 2024) – Local tourism entities are asking the state for help after a slow start to winter has had disastrous effects on Northwoods businesses and lodging properties.

The coalition of chambers and visitors’ bureaus in the Northwoods of Wisconsin counties (Forest, Iron, Langlade, Lincoln, Oneida, Price and Vilas) has talked with local Representative Rob Swearingen and Senator Mary Felzkowski’s offices in hopes of securing some state or federal funding to mitigate the losses from lack of visitors in the wake of an unprecedented mild winter with minimal to no snowfall.

“Many of our organizations have had conversations with our representatives alerting them to this crisis. We need relief for our small businesses that support our economies.’ said Krystal Westfahl, President & CEO of the Let’s Minocqua Visitors Bureau, Chair of the Oneida County Tourism Council and member of the Northwoods of Wisconsin marketing coalition, “We rely on the weather to provide us snow in winter months similar to our farmers relying on the rain, but our businesses have no immediate path to funding when a negative weather pattern happens. This will be catastrophic for our Northwoods economies.”

Businesses and lodging properties rely on the snow to bring in snowmobilers and other silent sports enthusiasts who support the communities by staying in hotels and resorts, dining in local restaurants and bars and making purchases from area stores and gas stations. To date this winter, it’s estimated that the Northwoods of Wisconsin counties have lost roughly $6.5 million in revenue due to lack of adequate snow to open the trails in December and January. Many businesses are reporting 75 - 80% year-over-year losses in the first few months of winter, and many are closing their doors. With no real foreseeable winter in the forecast, Westfahl hopes the state will get creative and help the small business community in a part of the state that relies on tourism as its bread and butter.

“Visitor spending is crucial to the economy here; crucial to the well-being of our communities and the good people who live and work in them,” said Westfahl. “We’re hopeful we can find a way to work together to support each other through this rough patch.”

In 2022, tourism accounted for over 6,000 jobs in the seven Northwoods of Wisconsin counties, with visitor spending bringing in over $747 million to the area.


Northwoods of Wisconsin Organizations in support of this initiative: Oneida County Tourism, Vilas County Tourism, Let’s Minocqua Visitors Bureau, Eagle River Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center, Hurley Chamber of Commerce, Phillips Area Chamber of Commerce, Price County Tourism, Three Lakes Area Visitors Bureau, Land O' Lakes Chamber of Commerce, Phelps Chamber of Commerce, Antigo/Langlade County Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center, Sayner - Star Lake Chamber of Commerce, Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce, Winchester Chamber of Commerce/Town of Winchester, Boulder Junction Chamber of Commerce