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NEWS STORIES

Vilas County tourism thrives in 2012Submitted: 06/18/2013

Lauren Stephenson
5 p.m. Anchor/Reporter
lstephenson@wjfw.com

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BOULDER JUNCTION - Usually when you watch the news, you hear about how bad the economy is.

Jobs are down, home sales are sluggish, and people aren't spending money.

But one Northwoods county stands out.

Tourism spending went up a full 10% in Vilas County in 2012.

Both small business owners and Vilas County's Tourism and Publicity Department say they're thriving because they're working together.

John and Sue Altschwager manage the White Birch Village Resort.

When the economy collapsed in 2008, most of their returning guests shortened their vacations.

The Altschwagers had to find new ways to bring in visitors.

"The first step obviously was become active in our local chambers of commerce. And participate in the activities and participate in town, which hadn't happened a lot in the past," John Altschwager said.

They also revamped their website, and joined Facebook.

Going to sporting shows and promoting their winter ice fishing packages also proved to be a success.

"We tend to find that once we get people here, get people to the area, and they see what's offered, we got them," Altschwager said.

They also get new customers by word of mouth.

One of their most loyal customers,Robert Kurzweil, says he's introduced over 30 people to the resort.

"My wife and I come in the spring and in the fall, and then the whole family in July. And there's roughly 38 of us, all family, friends, neighbors. It's wonderful. We have a lot of fun."

Altschwager says it's up to all business owners to bring the tourism industry back.

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