WIGCOT: Celebrating Wisconsin’s Tourism Industry

Petter vieve


Wisconsin Governor’s Conference on Tourism (WIGCOT) is a distinguished event that stands as a cornerstone for Wisconsin’s tourism sector. This annual gathering unites destination marketing organizations, tourism attractions, and vendors, creating a dynamic forum to celebrate and strategize for one of Wisconsin’s largest industries: tourism. This article delves into the essence of WIGCOT, its impact on the tourism industry, the key players involved, and the future prospects of Wisconsin’s tourism landscape.

Understanding WIGCOT

WIGCOT, an acronym for the Wisconsin Governor’s Conference on Tourism, is an annual event that has been a vital part of the state’s tourism industry for decades. It is organized by the Wisconsin Department of Tourism and supported by numerous stakeholders within the tourism sector. The conference serves as a platform for industry professionals to network, share knowledge, and collaborate on initiatives that promote and enhance tourism across the state.

The Historical Context

The inception of WIGCOT dates back several decades, reflecting the growing recognition of tourism as a pivotal economic driver for Wisconsin. Over the years, the conference has evolved, adapting to the changing dynamics of the tourism industry. It has grown in scale, attracting a diverse array of participants, including local and regional tourism organizations, hoteliers, restaurateurs, attraction managers, and vendors who provide services and products to support the industry.

Objectives of WIGCOT

The primary objectives of WIGCOT include:

Networking: Facilitating connections among tourism professionals to foster collaboration and partnership opportunities.

Education: Providing valuable insights through workshops, seminars, and keynote presentations on trends, best practices, and innovative strategies.

Promotion: Showcasing Wisconsin’s diverse tourism offerings to attract visitors and enhance the state’s image as a premier travel destination.

Advocacy: Discussing policies and initiatives that impact the tourism industry and advocating for supportive measures.

The Role of Destination Marketing Organizations

Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) play a critical role in WIGCOT. These organizations, often known as tourism bureaus or visitor bureaus, are responsible for promoting specific destinations within Wisconsin. They work tirelessly to attract tourists, enhance visitor experiences, and drive economic growth in their respective regions.

Functions of DMOs at WIGCOT

DMOs participate in WIGCOT with the following functions:

Representation: Representing their regions to a broader audience, showcasing unique attractions, events, and experiences.

Collaboration: Engaging with other DMOs to share successful strategies and collaborate on regional or state-wide initiatives.

Learning: Attending educational sessions to gain insights into the latest marketing trends, technological advancements, and consumer behavior patterns.

Promotion: Utilizing the platform to promote upcoming events, new attractions, and special packages to potential visitors and industry partners.

Success Stories

Numerous success stories emerge from the collaborations and initiatives discussed at WIGCOT. For instance, the revitalization of small towns through heritage tourism, the development of eco-friendly tourism practices, and the promotion of local culinary scenes are often highlighted. These success stories serve as inspiration and provide practical blueprints for other regions to emulate.

Key Players in Wisconsin’s Tourism Industry

WIGCOT brings together a diverse group of stakeholders, each playing a unique role in the tourism ecosystem. These key players include:

Tourism Attractions

Wisconsin boasts a plethora of attractions that draw millions of visitors each year. These range from natural wonders like the Apostle Islands and the Wisconsin Dells to cultural landmarks such as the Milwaukee Art Museum and Lambeau Field. At WIGCOT, representatives from these attractions engage in discussions on enhancing visitor experiences, sustainability practices, and collaborative marketing efforts.

Vendors and Service Providers

Vendors and service providers form another crucial component of WIGCOT. These include businesses that offer products and services essential for the tourism industry, such as hospitality supplies, marketing solutions, transportation services, and technology providers. Their participation ensures that tourism businesses have access to the latest tools and resources to operate efficiently and effectively.

Government and Policy Makers

Government officials and policymakers also play a significant role at WIGCOT. Their involvement is crucial for discussing and shaping tourism policies, funding opportunities, and regulatory frameworks that support the industry’s growth. Collaboration between public and private sectors is often a focal point of the conference, ensuring that tourism development aligns with broader economic and community goals.

Educational Opportunities at WIGCOT

One of the hallmarks of WIGCOT is its robust educational program. The conference features a variety of sessions designed to equip attendees with the knowledge and skills needed to thrive in the competitive tourism landscape.

Workshops and Seminars

WIGCOT offers a wide range of workshops and seminars covering topics such as:

Digital Marketing: Exploring strategies for leveraging social media, search engine optimization, and content marketing to attract and engage visitors.

Sustainability: Discussing eco-friendly tourism practices, conservation efforts, and the importance of sustainable development.

Customer Experience: Enhancing visitor experiences through exceptional service, innovative attractions, and personalized offerings.

Data Analytics: Utilizing data to understand visitor behavior, track trends, and make informed decisions.

Keynote Presentations

Renowned speakers from the tourism industry and related fields deliver keynote presentations at WIGCOT. These presentations provide attendees with insights into global tourism trends, innovative practices, and inspiring stories of success. Keynote speakers often include industry leaders, successful entrepreneurs, and influential policymakers.

Panel Discussions

Panel discussions bring together experts from various sectors of the tourism industry to share their perspectives and engage in lively debates on pressing issues. Topics range from the impact of technology on tourism to strategies for attracting international visitors. These discussions provide a platform for diverse viewpoints and foster a deeper understanding of complex challenges.

Promoting Wisconsin’s Unique Offerings

WIGCOT serves as a showcase for Wisconsin’s unique tourism offerings. The state’s diverse attractions, events, and cultural experiences are highlighted, encouraging attendees to explore and promote these destinations.

Highlighting Regional Attractions

Each region of Wisconsin has its own distinct attractions and experiences. WIGCOT provides a platform for these regions to highlight their unique offerings, from the scenic beauty of Door County to the vibrant cultural scene in Madison. By promoting regional attractions, WIGCOT helps to distribute tourism benefits more evenly across the state.

Culinary Tourism

Wisconsin’s culinary scene is a significant draw for visitors, and culinary tourism is often a key focus at WIGCOT. The state is known for its cheese, craft beer, and farm-to-table dining experiences. Sessions dedicated to culinary tourism explore ways to promote local food and drink, develop food trails, and create memorable dining experiences for visitors.

Cultural and Heritage Tourism

Wisconsin’s rich cultural heritage is another focal point of WIGCOT. The state’s history, arts, and cultural festivals are showcased, emphasizing the importance of preserving and promoting cultural heritage. Discussions on cultural tourism often include strategies for engaging with diverse communities and creating inclusive experiences for all visitors.

The Economic Impact of Tourism in Wisconsin

Tourism is a vital economic driver for Wisconsin, contributing significantly to the state’s economy. WIGCOT provides an opportunity to assess and celebrate the economic impact of tourism, as well as to strategize for future growth.

Economic Contributions

The tourism industry in Wisconsin generates billions of dollars in economic activity each year. This includes direct spending by visitors on accommodation, dining, entertainment, and transportation, as well as indirect and induced impacts that ripple through the economy. The revenue generated by tourism supports local businesses, creates jobs, and contributes to tax revenues that fund essential public services.

Employment Opportunities

Tourism is a major source of employment in Wisconsin. The industry provides jobs across a wide range of sectors, including hospitality, food and beverage, transportation, and retail. At WIGCOT, discussions often focus on workforce development, addressing challenges such as seasonal employment, skill gaps, and the need for training programs to ensure a skilled and capable workforce.

Community Development

Tourism also plays a crucial role in community development. By attracting visitors, tourism supports the growth of local businesses, enhances infrastructure, and fosters a sense of pride and identity among residents. WIGCOT highlights successful community development initiatives and explores ways to maximize the benefits of tourism for local communities.

Challenges and Opportunities

While WIGCOT celebrates the successes of Wisconsin’s tourism industry, it also addresses the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. The conference provides a platform for open discussions on pressing issues and the development of strategies to navigate the evolving landscape.


Some of the key challenges facing Wisconsin’s tourism industry include:

Seasonality: The seasonal nature of tourism in Wisconsin poses challenges for businesses and workers. Strategies to promote year-round tourism and extend the peak season are often discussed at WIGCOT.

Competition: The tourism industry is highly competitive, with destinations vying for visitors’ attention and spending. WIGCOT explores ways to differentiate Wisconsin’s offerings and stay ahead of competitors.

Sustainability: Balancing tourism growth with environmental sustainability is a critical concern. Sessions on sustainability focus on eco-friendly practices, conservation efforts, and the importance of responsible tourism.


Despite the challenges, there are numerous opportunities for growth and innovation in Wisconsin’s tourism industry. WIGCOT provides a platform to explore these opportunities, including:

Emerging Markets: Identifying and targeting emerging markets, such as international visitors and niche travel segments, presents significant growth potential.

Technological Advancements: Leveraging technology to enhance visitor experiences, streamline operations, and improve marketing efforts is a key focus at WIGCOT.

Collaboration and Partnerships: Building partnerships between tourism organizations, local businesses, and community stakeholders can lead to innovative and successful initiatives that benefit the entire industry.

The Future of WIGCOT and Wisconsin’s Tourism Industry

As WIGCOT continues to evolve, its role in shaping the future of Wisconsin’s tourism industry remains crucial. The conference serves as a catalyst for innovation, collaboration, and strategic planning, ensuring that Wisconsin remains a premier travel destination.

Embracing Innovation

Innovation is at the heart of WIGCOT’s mission. The conference encourages participants to embrace new ideas, technologies, and approaches to enhance the tourism experience. From virtual reality tours to sustainable tourism practices, WIGCOT showcases cutting-edge innovations that can transform the industry.

Fostering Collaboration

Collaboration is a key theme at WIGCOT. The conference brings together diverse stakeholders, fostering a spirit of cooperation and partnership. By working together, tourism professionals can pool resources, share knowledge, and develop cohesive strategies that drive the industry forward.

Strategic Planning

WIGCOT provides a platform for strategic planning, enabling participants to set goals, identify priorities, and develop action plans for the future. The conference’s sessions and discussions help to shape a shared vision for Wisconsin’s tourism industry, ensuring that it continues to thrive in the years to come.


WIGCOT is more than just a conference; it is a celebration of Wisconsin’s vibrant tourism industry. By bringing together destination marketing organizations, tourism attractions, vendors, and other stakeholders, WIGCOT plays a vital role in promoting, enhancing, and sustaining one of Wisconsin’s largest and most important industries. Through networking, education, promotion, and advocacy, WIGCOT ensures that Wisconsin remains a top travel destination, offering unique and memorable experiences for visitors from around the world. As the tourism landscape continues to evolve, WIGCOT will remain a cornerstone of Wisconsin’s tourism strategy, driving innovation, collaboration, and sustainable growth.

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