Our view: Let's build on the momentum of the Tall Ships weekend

Our view: Let's build on the momentum of the Tall Ships weekend

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TALL SHIPS

Patrons wait in line tour the ships during the Tall Ships event on Saturday.

Downtown Kenosha is coming off the highly successful Tall Ships Festival with great momentum.

Large and happy crowds enjoyed the festivities, and it seemed that for every person or family you saw from Kenosha County you met one from elsewhere.

Folks traveled here to enjoy a fantastic event and in many cases enjoyed the bustling Kenosha HarborMarket and stopped in a museum and a restaurant.

The streetcars and trolleys were moving people in a seamless and effective way.

“We threw a party and people came,” said Kris Kochman, city community relations liaison. “What more can you ask?”

Keep that snapshot of the biggest weekend of the summer in Kenosha and think about how tourism can grow here. Allow yourself to think big.

Last year, visitors spent more than $213.6 million in Kenosha County, 2.2 percent more than the previous year, according to statistics released earlier this year by the Kenosha Area Conventions & Visitors Bureau in its annual economic impact report.

That growth is expected to continue. New hotels are opening, including the Stella downtown, and marketing of our special events is outstanding.

What do we need to keep growing?

Don’t look any further than Lake Michigan. We have nice beaches but we don’t have a beach that we promote as a destination with lifeguard protection and family-friendly events regularly.

That should change next summer. And if it does, going to the beach in Kenosha would be part of the tourism draw for events like Taste of Wisconsin, the Classic Cruise-In Car Show and others.

It’s another element that Racine and other cities have embraced. It’s time that Kenosha does.

How could we do this? Quite simply, a beach could be lifeguard protected from Fourth of July weekend to Labor Day weekend. Lifeguards could become certified at the YMCA. There could be a parking charge that helps fund the lifeguards.

We often see water safety stories online with posts from readers asking why there isn’t a lifeguard-protected beach here. We ask the same thing.

Now, with the experience of the Tall Ships weekend in focus, we can really see what tourism can do here. Let’s build on that momentum and enhance downtown.

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