Ramping up Ag tourism in Wisconsin

Bob Panzer
Bob Panzer

Recently I was driving State Highway 95 between Fountain City and Arcadia, Wisconsin. This highway is a good road to view some of the great Wisconsin landscapes that make up Wisconsin. It reminded me of my travels in western Canada last June and July.

Wisconsin offers some great landscapes that those of us that live here may just take for granted at times. Perhaps we should share these great landscapes with others. While traveling in western Canada, I also experienced the impact of Chinese tourists in Canada. There were many large buses filled with Chinese tourists at most of the major scenic sites in the Canadian Rockies. Perhaps we should consider sharing our Wisconsin sites with Chinese tourists too.

There are many articles and editorials of late that question how rural America is viewed and treated by government bureaucrats, large corporations, and others. Perhaps it is time for those of us in rural America to begin to work toward promoting the great things rural America can offer to others. Could we get the farm organizations, rural cooperatives, rural chambers of commerce, and others to begin to focus on switching some gears to move things forward?

One thought is the idea of promoting rural Wisconsin to Chinese tourists. Chinese as tourists to the United States are actually increasing in numbers since the Trump election win while some other groups have declined greatly during that same time period.

Over 2.6 million tourists from China came to the United States in 2015, and this was an 18% year-over-year increase. Chinese tourists spent $74 million per day in the United States last year according to The average Chinese tourist spends over $10,000 while staying in the United States.

The average Chinese tourist spends over $10,000 while staying in the United States.

What do the Chinese tourists want to do while in the United States? According to the website, the rapidly growing number of rich Chinese tourists want to shop, gamble, golf, and share in adventure related activities.

According to a recent article in the USA TODAY, tourism by Chinese tourists to United States firing ranges is growing at a rapid pace. Chinese tourists want to hold guns in their hands and shoot. Ranges in China have guns that are fixed to benches. Promotion videos now being used by gun ranges in the United States show large selections of guns, great amounts of quality food, and large ranges.

Do we in Wisconsin have what would draw the Chinese tourists? We offer great food, gun ranges, golf courses, gun manufacturers, great views, and people that know how to work and provide great service. We also offer breweries, distillers, professional sports events, and some great landscapes.

Chinese Tourism-Can we make it happen in Wisconsin? It would take some homework on the part of Wisconsin. We have a great University of Wisconsin system that could provide some great leadership. Work would need to be done to team up with Chinese travel agencies. This would involve preparing websites and social media to work in the Chinese markets.

Involvement with Chinese travel agencies would need to be carried out in designing destinations and experiences for the tourists. With some creativity and efforts and coordination with our neighboring state of Minnesota, things could grow from ideas into tourism dollars flowing into rural Wisconsin.

Consider the idea of Chinese tourists flying into Wisconsin or Minnesota and spending a day shopping, a day on the golf course, a day at a gun range, a day or two visiting Wisconsin’s farms enjoying great steaks and other farm products, a day taking in a Brewers or Packers game, and a few days of taking in the rest of what Wisconsin offers.

We have great things to offer in Wisconsin. We also have great people that are hardworking and willing to provide great service to others. Consider the possibilities! Can Wisconsin team up to get Chinese tourism to be a major part of the Wisconsin economy? Wisconsin has met other challenges and succeeded. Are we ready for the next challenge?

Bob Panzer lives and farms in Chippewa County, WI. He serves as a Land Manager for Pifer's Auction and Realty, Eau Claire, WI. He may be contacted at