Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Kleefisch visit focuses on Travel Green
Industry brings billions to Wisconsin

by Lisa Seiser

May 19, 2011

Lyons — Surrounded by lush green grass, blooming flowers, budding trees and fresh ponds, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch was in the perfect place to tout Wisconsin’s Travel Green initiative.

On Friday morning, Kleefisch stood at a podium outside the main Grand Geneva Resort building with the Brute golf course as the backdrop, talking to local business people, area Chamber of Commerce members and elected officials about tourism in the state, which is a $12.3 billion industry, including $414 million alone in Walworth County.

“I think that is something worth applauding,” Kleefisch announced to a small crowd of local stakeholders.

She said despite the recession, it appears as though the travel and tourism industry is starting to recover. In 2010, she said tourism was up 1.8 percent statewide.

But, she also was quick to talk about Travel Green Wisconsin, an initiative she said will set Wisconsin apart in environmental travel and tourism. She said local businesses in the Lake Geneva area, including the Grand Geneva, have grabbed onto the Travel Green concept.

Travel Green Wisconsin falls into the spirit of the state’s heritage of environmental stewardship.

It was created in 2006 to promote environmentally-friendly business practices and is the first state-sponsored sustainable tourism certification in the nation, and it has become a model for sustainable travel efforts throughout the country, Kleefisch said.

According to the Travel Green Wisconsin website, applicants must practice communication, education, waste reduction, reuse, recycling, energy efficiency, water conservation, air quality, wildlife landscape conservation and transportation.

Kleefisch said Wisconsin has long had roots in environmental efforts and mentioned names such as John Muir, Aldo Leopold and Gaylord Nelson.

She said she believes more travelers will look for green options as they make their own lives more green in nature.

“Wisconsin is done being a hidden gem,” Kleefisch said. “We don’t want to hide any more.”

Kleefisch’s visit to Lake Geneva late last week was part of a trip around Wisconsin focusing on state tourism and was in conjunction with National Tourism week. She said she had been traveling the state from “corner to corner” and was excited to be in the Lake Geneva area.

“I am thankful to all those entrepreneurs who make our tourism go,” Kleefisch said.

Kleefisch spent the night in the Lake Geneva area on Thursday following a dinner with local dignitaries. She left the area Friday morning after her 10-minute speech at the Grand Geneva. Among those in attendance during the Friday morning speech were Lake Geneva Mayor Jim Connors, Lake Geneva Area Chamber of Commerce Director George Hennerley, State Sen. Neal Kedzie, Walworth County Board Chairwoman Nancy Russell and State Rep. Steve Nass. Others included those from the Walworth County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, the Lake Geneva Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and staff and management from the Grand Geneva Resort.