HAYWARD, Wis. (Feb. 9, 2017) – The American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation is racing into the new year with a marketing campaign aimed at promoting its Kortelopet (Korte) cross-country ski race and the importance of a healthy, active lifestyle. With help from a $12,450 Joint Effort Marketing (JEM) Grant from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation looks to increase participation in the 29 kilometer race slated for Feb. 23, 2018. This year’s will take place on Friday, Feb. 24.
“This project clearly demonstrates that funding tourism marketing initiatives produces a sound return on investment for the local economy,” Governor Walker said. “Tourism is part of Wisconsin’s economic foundation and its continued growth is a priority for my administration because of the nearly 191,000 jobs it supports, the tax revenues it generates and the positive image it projects for the State.”
The Korte is known as a half-marathon distance cross-country ski race. Traditionally held the same day as the world-famous full marathon Birkebeiner (Birkie), the Korte will now take place the day before the Birkie in order to provide Korte skiers with a unique race experience and to allow for the potential of doubling race participation from 3,000 to 6,000 over the next 7 to 8 years. Event organizers hope that moving the Korte to its own day will increase the number of participants by 10 percent each year. This year’s Korte event is expected to attract more than 10,000 participants and spectators to the Hayward area, generating an estimated $1.6 million in visitor spending.
In 2016, the American Birkebeiner and Kortelopet races drew skiers from 46 states and 22 countries. The Kortelopet race provides yet another medium to speak to skiers, both domestically and internationally, about northwestern Wisconsin and the skiing opportunities available on the Birkie Trail. The American Birkebeiner Trail system was recently voted the No.1 cross-country ski destination in the United States by USA Today/10Best.
“The American Birkebeiner is North America’s most prestigious cross country ski race, and each year Wisconsin’s Northwoods welcomes thousands of skiers and spectators from around the world,” said Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett. “We’re thrilled to support the expansion of the Korte event so more athletes can participate and ultimately grow the overall economic impact of the Birkie weekend.”
In 2015, the tourism economy in Wisconsin totaled $19.3 billion, a more than four percent increase from 2014. Since 2010, tourism activity in the state added 18,717 jobs to the economy, an 11% increase in travel and hospitality employment opportunities for Wisconsin residents. Visitors generated $1.5 billion in state and local revenue. Wisconsin taxpayers would need to pay $640 per household in order to maintain current government services. Total business sales in Sawyer County reached more than $113.7 million in 2015, supporting 971 jobs and $9.9 million in state and local taxes.
“We are incredibly pleased to have been selected as a recipient of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism JEM Grant and the opportunity it affords us to grow the Kortelopet race. The grant provides us with the means to promote the race itself, helps us to encourage a healthy, active lifestyle, all the while increasing tourism in northwestern Wisconsin,” said Ben Popp, Executive Director, American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation. “We are grateful for the opportunity and excited to get started.”
In fiscal 2016, the Department funded 57 JEM projects, awarding a total of more than $1.1 million. Visitor expenditures driven by the marketing from these projects will exceed $31 million. JEM grant funds are available to non-profit organizations for the promotion of Wisconsin tourism events and destinations. The state can fund up to 75 percent of a project’s first-year advertising and marketing costs, and provide support for second- and third-year projects with decreasing amounts for funding until projects become self-sustaining. For information on the JEM Program and application materials, visit http://industry.travelwisconsin.com.
The mission of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism is to market the State as the Midwest’s premier travel destination for fun by executing industry-leading marketing programs and establishing strategic partnerships. The Department plays a significant role in generating greater economic impact and jobs for Wisconsin. The portal for traveler information can be found at: www.travelwisconsin.com.