Wisconsin Great River Road: The Wisconsin Mississippi River Parkway Commission received a Joint Effort Marketing (JEM) grant from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism in the amount of $20,000 for their Sales Promotion, “Welcome Back to Wisconsin’s Great River Road”. This promotion is designed to ramp up road trips and overnight stays on the Wisconsin portion of the Great River Road in 33 communities and 8 counties. The projected economic impact of this event is approximately $477,616.

The “Welcome Back to Wisconsin’s Great River Road” is a multifaceted sales promotion campaign to ramp up road trips and overnight stays on the  Wisconsin portion of the Great River Road and its 33 communities. The campaign is set to run midsummer through October to capitalize on the projected increase of road trips vs. flying vacations for the remainder of 2020 due to covid 19.

The campaign will focus heavily on digital with key print partners that have a history of producing WI Great River Road information requests. By utilizing digital the “Welcome Back to Wisconsin’s Great River Road” will use key messages and concepts that are even more relevant with the response and reaction of covid-19 social distancing requirements, and the post restriction reservations of travelers who may be hesitant after the end of the “Safer at Home” in Wisconsin and drive market states.

The Wisconsin Great River Road and its 33 communities already offer the refuge of the outdoors, and existing attributes including 4 State Parks, many camping sites, and a location in the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge who traditionally see 475,000 visitors annually in the La Crosse District alone.

The sales promotion will benefit the many attractions, shops, and eateries that are located on the Road, many who will be encouraged through this campaign to offer curbside pick ups and grab and go kits which add to the business revenue and perhaps alleviate safety concerns of visitors to the area that may be leftover from the pandemic experience. Visitors will be able to enjoy picking up supplies, food, rental equipment and head to campsites and cabins, overlook picnics, and other silent sports options in these locations.

The length of the Wisconsin Great River Road offers an ideal location for multi day trips to extend the stay and welcome visitors safely this fall since many are looking for less crowded options for accommodations and activities.


“I’m very excited as an owner of two small businesses along the Wisconsin Great River Road to be part of the Deals Program. This campaign will bring much needed attention to our area’s small businesses.” – Kelly Hutchison (Owner, Gypsy’s Paradise and Gracie’s Hutch – Ferryville, WI)

“The Wisconsin Great River Road is full of fantastic stops along the way and the tourists it brings are very necessary to the health of our businesses.  I’m looking forward to this marketing campaign and am very grateful the Department of Tourism chose to fund us.” – Jaynne Lepke (Owner, Rocky’s Supper Club -Stoddard, WI)

“We’re happy to see our area getting the funds it needs to promote itself.  We’re looking forward to travelers getting back on the road and enjoying the great fishing off our barge.” – Mark Clements (Owner, Clements Fishing Barge – Genoa, WI)


Travel Wisconsin Joint Effort Marketing (JEM) Grant Program

JEM grant funds are available to non-profit organizations for the promotion of Wisconsin tourism events and destinations. The state can fund a portion of a project’s advertising and marketing costs for up to three years until the project becomes self-sustaining.


Amy Gabay
Media Director
River Travel Media

Sherry Quamme
Wisconsin Mississippi River Parkway Commission