The return of the vacation

By Joe Taschler And Kylie Gumpert

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (MCT)

Published: Monday, July 14 2014 12:00 p.m. MDT

Updated: Monday, July 14 2014 10:40 a.m. MDT

A survey by Orbitz.com, a travel website, showed 51 percent of U.S. residents are planning to spend at least $2,000 or more on their summer vacations this year vs. 44 percent last summer. An estimated 88 percent planned a vacation this year, up 11 percentage points from a year earlier, the survey found.

Since the recession, the travel industry has added 749,000 jobs to employ close to 8 million in May, a record high, according to the U.S. Travel Association, an industry trade group based in Washington.

State tourism rebounds

For Wisconsin destinations, things have also been looking better in recent years, said Tom Diehl, president of the Tommy Bartlett Inc. entertainment business in the Wisconsin Dells.

“Once you get out here into the Heartland, we basically rely on the region to provide us with tourism,” Diehl said.

“In 2009, we had a very slight dip,” he said, speaking of the Dells area. “But we have recovered. Every year has beaten the previous year.”

That matches what other state travel industry watchers are seeing.

Chet Gerlach, executive director of the Madison-based Association of Wisconsin Tourism Attractions, said tourism’s status is “good and getting better.”

“I think there is a pent-up demand, quite frankly, to travel,” Gerlach said. “I think people are feeling better about their jobs and their security.”

“I think it’s been kind of steady growth,” Gerlach added. “It’s been kind of constant, another percentage or two or three (of growth) every year.”

In the United States, “There is an improved optimism,” said Shane Norton, director of economics and country risk at IHS Global Insight. “People have got their jobs. People have caught up on belt tightening they took during the recession and after. They are looking forward.”

Bloomberg News contributed to this report.

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©2014 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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Distributed by MCT Information Services

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