The entrance to Standing Rocks Park. (Courtesy Portage Co. Parks)

Plover CVB, county parks, partner on tourism partnership

By Patrick Lynn

In a Thursday night agreement, the Plover Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (PACVB) and Portage Co. Parks Department forged a partnership aimed at boosting sports tourism initiatives in the region.

Sports tourism involves traveling to a destination either to participate in or spectate sporting events. PACVB Executive Director Malorie Paine urged the Parks Commission to greenlight a proposal for promoting Standing Rocks County Park, among others, as potential venues for activities such as disc golf tournaments and cross-country meets.

While sporting events already occur in the parks, the agreement grants PACVB the authority to actively engage in external marketing endeavors. PACVB staff cannot unilaterally book events, and final decisions regarding bid submissions will rest with the Parks Department.

Paine told Commissioners that the PACVB had received nearly 100 proposals for sporting events from various planners in the past six months. Highlighting the financial significance, she said, “Sports tourism generates nearly $40 billion in direct visitor spending annually across the U.S., contributing significantly to the local economy, benefiting residents, businesses, and government agencies.”

Tourism alone generated a $245 million impact for Portage County in 2022. Paine emphasized the direct benefits to residents from the generated revenue through overnight stays. She expressed the partnership as an avenue to augment the local economy via existing tourism opportunities.

The goal is not to inundate residents with constant events or strain local park capacities, Paine added. Instead, the PACVB plans to “channel additional tourism revenue beneficially for all stakeholders.”

The PACVB’s mission revolves around promoting quality of life, economic growth, and community preservation through tourism marketing and destination development.

Paine projected that even a marginal increase in sports tourism could facilitate improved trails, enhanced or new boat launches, and additional attractions, funded by generated room taxes. She urged for seizing the benefits of sports tourism and emphasized that seeking event bids doesn’t guarantee winning them, but it opens doors to opportunities.

The Commission unanimously agreed.