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Without the S.S. Badger, Manitowoc tourism continues to thrive

Posted at 6:56 PM, Aug 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-10 21:17:53-04

MANITOWOC (NBC 26) — As we've looked at how the S.S. Badger shutting down could affect the city, we found that tourism is at an all-time high. Places like the Rahr-West Art Museum, in Manitowoc, are seeing visitors like they never have before.

Museum Executive Director, Greg Vadney, knows just how important tourism is.

"Tourism is hot right now", Vadney said. "The Museum world is the tourism world."

A connection that works great with a spike in tourists.

"Anecdotally, we know traffic comes here", says Vadney.

Surprisingly enough, since July 21, the day that the Badger shut down, to now, the Rahr-West Art Museum says that they have actually seen more visitors in that time frame than they did a year ago.

"Our July numbers are up by over 150 people since last year and last year's numbers were really good", Vadney said.

These numbers are not surprising to Director of Tourism, Courtney Hansen, who attributes the highs in tourism to the city's new approach.

"Really it's a shift in mindset from our City Council, our Mayor, our city staff on putting an emphasis in this downtown and really highlighting this lakeshore area", Hansen says.

She attributes the draw to both many new businesses around the waterfront, as well as older landmarks like the museum and Lake Michigan.

"We have folks stop by our downtown visitors center and say 'Wow, this is a different place than I visited three, four, five years ago'", said Hansen. "There's just a whole new energy in the city of Manitowoc."

The energy that Vadney knows the museum and the city and will grow upon.

"It's about the people, collectively, the people who find out and discover Manitowoc and are able to come here, not only for their first try but once they see what we have here, to come back again and again to Manitowoc", Vadney said.