Tourists are helping the central Wisconsin economy, and they proved that this summer.
The Central Wisconsin Convention and Visitors Bureau reports an increase in tourism this summer compared with last year.
Tourism is the number three biggest industry in Wisconsin, right behind agriculture and manufacturing.
And with central Wisconsin's beautiful scenery, recreational opportunities and festivals, it's easy to see why thousands come here each year.
The visitor's center, located in downtown Wausau, keeps track of the number of tourists based on guests staying in area hotels.
According to its executive director, each month this summer numbers increased from the year before.
"2009 was certainly a low point for our economy and there's been a lot more optimism and I think people have more discretionary income," said Darien Schaefer.
Plus, many events in Wausau over the summer, like the Balloon Rally and Chalkfest, were free.
"I would honestly say that our events have increased, as far as attendance size, because we only charge for one event," said Kari Rasmussen, the director of Wausau Area Events.
There is an admission charge for the Bull Falls Blues Fest.
Schaefer says on average between 25 and 30 people go to the visitor's center every day.
And though what they're looking for is across the board, people mostly want to take advantage of the many festivals, sporting events, and the area's outdoor activities.
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