Early snow believed to draw more tourists to NorthwoodsSubmitted: 02/28/2014
Story By Lauren Stephenson

MINOCQUA - Many of us can't wait for the chilly temperatures to give way to spring.

But people in the tourism industry say the weather brought more visitors to the Northwoods at the end of 2013.

The Lakeland Area saw a $4,500 increase in room tax collected this past October, November and December.

That's compared to the same time last year.

Hotels and other places of lodging collect room tax on all accommodations.

People in the industry believe the increase was because of the early snowfall in early December.

"We think a large part of the reason that we experienced that increase was really due to our early snow-cover and heavy snow cover that allowed the snowmobile clubs to get the trails open. Most of the trails in Oneida County opened December 15th. That was very early considering it's usually about two weeks later at least that the trails open," Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kim Baltus.

The room tax rate in Arbor Vitae, Woodruff, Lake Tomahawk and Minocqua is 4%.

Three-quarters of that goes to the Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce to promote the area.

The Chamber advertises heavily in the Chicago area and southern Wisconsin.

The cold weather isn't just drawing more people to the area now.

It also has many people thinking about the spring and summer.

"I've had many, many calls from people that are making those plans and they're anxious to start thinking about summer and coming up to the lake," added Baltus.

They hope the numbers will also be up for January, February and March.

January and February are the strongest winter months for tourism.

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NEKOOSA - People in Nekoosa could go back in time this weekend.

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"People come to this whether there's good weather of bad weather," said Executive Director of the Eagle River Chamber Kim Emerson. "And with this year being great weather, we had above-average crowds and it was just spectacular. We're so happy about that."

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There were also dozens of craft vendors, food and wine and cranberry marsh tours.

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The Wood County Sheriff's Office tells us a sporting goods store owner walked in as the burglary was happening, just before 7 a.m. The suspects took off in a red Dodge pickup truck pulling a trailer with the stolen UTV. They crashed through several gates to get out.

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