Governor Doyle: Signs Legislation to Strengthen Wisconsin’s Tourism Industry

Anne Lupardus, Office of the Governor, 608-261-2162

Also Presents Tom Diehl with Lifetime Achievement Award

BARABOO – Governor Jim Doyle today signed two pieces of legislation designed to strengthen Wisconsin’s tourism industry by bolstering marketing efforts.

The first, Assembly Bill 20, creates a new category of blue highway directional signs for “attractions,” such as amusement parks, historical or cultural sites, and other tourism businesses.

“This bill will allow important attractions to have signs along the highway just like gas stations, restaurants, and hotels do now,” Governor Doyle said. “This will strengthen our tourism industry by increasing the visibility of our regional attractions, and I am pleased to sign it into law.”

The second bill, Assembly Bill 298, clarifies that 70 percent of room taxes collected by local governments must be used for “tourism promotion and development,” and defines acceptable uses for the funds.

“While it is important for the state to have a strong state-sponsored marketing campaign, it is equally important for communities to reinforce it with their own local marketing efforts, Governor Doyle said. “That’s the purpose of Wisconsin’s room tax, and AB 298 will ensure that 70 percent of room taxes are used for tourism promotion and development. The bill also specifies exactly what kind of marketing expenses are allowed, assuring that local Chambers of Commerce, Convention and Visitor Bureaus and other marketing organizations will get all the room tax dollars they’re entitled to.”

Governor Doyle also today presented Wisconsin tourism leader Tom Diehl with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his long-standing and significant role in advancing Wisconsin’s tourism industry.

“For 25 years, Tom has shown tremendous leadership, service and dedication to Wisconsin tourism industry,” Governor Doyle said. “His influence and efforts have set the stage for the substantial growth of travel in the state.”

A highly recognized pioneer for Wisconsin’s travel and hospitality industry, Diehl chaired the Governor’s Council on Tourism for thirteen years, during which time he helped shepherd numerous pieces of legislation that have had a lasting impact.

Under his guidance, room tax legislation was passed and a unified school start date was instituted in 2003. His vision led to the development of the Joint Effort Marketing (JEM) program, cabinet level recognition for the state’s Department of Tourism, the Department-sponsored Davidson-Peterson annual economic impact studies and an 800 percent increase in the state’s tourism budget.

Diehl has served on a number of boards responsible for marketing state’s tourism industry including the Wisconsin Dells Visitor and Convention Bureau, Taliesin Preservation Commission, Association of Wisconsin Tourism Attractions, Wisconsin Tourism Federation, HH Bennett Foundation, and the Circus World Museum. He has been a member of several of Governor Task Forces including Stewardship, Blue Ribbon Task Force on Gaming, Minimum Wage Advisory Task Force, and the Clean Water Task Force.

Diehl is currently the president, general manager and owner of Tommy Bartlett, Inc., the parent company of Tommy Bartlett Show and Tommy Bartlett Exploratory in Wisconsin Dells.