As travel rebounds, Wisconsin state parks see boost

A new AAA survey shows nearly 80% of Wisconsinites feel comfortable traveling, compared to 40% in January.
Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 10:20 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 21, 2021 at 10:33 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Summer travel continues to rebound in Wisconsin, as more people feel comfortable leaving their homes and going on a trip amid the pandemic.

According to a new AAA survey, 76% of the 400 people who responded in late June, feel more comfortable traveling. That is up from 40% in January.

National and state parks topped the list of where people are vacationing, with 31% of respondents saying that is where they took at trip this year.

A day outside also remains a top choice for some Madison-area residents, such as Bob Gracia, who stopped to enjoy Governor Nelson State Park on Wednesday afternoon.

“State parks have been our summer,” Gracia said. “We’ve gone out to Governor Dodge, camped there and want to go up to Hartman Creek in a couple weeks.”

Wisconsin State Parks Director Steve Schmelzer said this trend is reflected in park visitation.

“Visitation is probably going to be an excess of 20 million estimated this year,” he said.

Schmelzer said, to date, camping reservations in 2021 are up 50 percent over 2020.

“Even during the week, there are some properties that are having close to 100% occupancy, so its been a busy summer,” he said.

Overall travel volumes also do not show signs of slowing down. AAA Spokesperson Molly Hart said 69% of those who responded to their survey, have already taken a trip or plan to this year. More than two-thirds will take their trip sometime between July and Sept.

“People feel more comfortable traveling, mostly those who have been vaccinated,” Hart said. “they are also pleased and feel good about the safety measures – whether it’s the airlines, hotels, the rental cars are taking to make sure everything is clean.”

However, as families like the Garcia’s plan ahead, there is still some pause amid the pandemic.

“We aren’t quite ready for really busy places like the Dells with crowds; our comfort level isn’t quite there yet,” Gracia said.

The AAA survey details Wisconsinites’ second top pick for a vacation is a city or major metro destination. According to representatives with Destination Madison, hotel room bookings in the Dane Co. area were up ten percent in June compared to May.

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