Sara Meaney Keynote speaker at tourism conference
The Polk County Tourism Council and St. Croix Regional Tourism hosted the St. Croix Valley Tourism Conference September 26 in Dresser. Local business owners and community leaders shared ideas and listened to several speakers, including the newly appointed Secretary of Tourism, Sara Meaney.
“Without question, tourism drives revenue into local business owners’ pockets,” she said at the event. “It brings in tax revenue into the communities to support education, infrastructure, trails and recreation and health. It’s one in the same! Communities thrive because of tourism.”
Secretary Meaney was appointed on Jan. 7 and is enjoying her new position. “It is a delight, an honor, and a pleasure,” she said. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s also some of the most fun work I’ve ever been able to do.” On her tour of Polk County, Meaney visited several communities including Dresser, Amery, and Osceola.
“I was thrilled to see how alive and well Main Street is and how close the access is to the trail, the river, and the waterfalls,” she said of Osceola. “It’s nature and town. The proximity of those two things is the perfect combination for attracting tourists while also being a wonderful place to live.”
Of course, Meaney’s job is to focus on the aspects of Wisconsin tourism that need strengthening, and every community has certain areas that can be improved upon. Speaking to those areas of improvement at the conference, Meaney revealed several ideas for Polk County and all of Wisconsin to promote tourism in local towns.
“The community clearly seems to be rallying around the success of the town, now it’s a question of making sure people know more about it,” she said, “Marketing is tough. It costs money and that’s the role I think that the Department of Tourism can play in creating more resources and assets that local and regional tourism entities can tap into.”
Getting the word out that Wisconsin tourist communities are thriving, and are more than just “drive through” destinations is something that is reliant on advertisement. Recognizing that not all communities are capable to fully invest in advertising is something that Meaney hopes to address.
“Everyone around the state is not able, and does not have the time or resources to place everything in advertisements,” she continued. “We’re hoping to build up more programs that towns like Osceola can tap into in order to make some of their work a bit more accessible and bring down costs in general for areas around the state.”
After touring Main Street, eating lunch at the Watershed Café, hiking down to the St. Croix River, and stopping at the beautiful Cascade Falls, Secretary Meaney was able to enjoy one of Polk County’s many great communities and spoke of Osceola in high regard.
“Our philosophy is that if it’s a great place to visit, it’s also a great place to live,” she said. “Osceola is living that every day.”