Progress on Blue Wave: Promoting tourism on the South Shore

By KBJR News 1

July 22, 2014 Updated Jul 22, 2014 at 9:07 PM CDT

Ashland, WI (NNCNOW.com) -- There's a big push to promote tourism in Ashland County, Wisconsin.

Two grants totaling $25,000 along with a new building in the works for the lake walk are just the beginning.

Ashland County topped $47 million in total business sales in 2013, much of which was supported by tourism.

"It's an excellent economic impact for the area. Our seasons usually run from July to the middle of October, we are very event driven up here in Ashland and really along the Chequamegan Bay," said Mary Mcphetridge, executive director of the Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce.

Ashland is known as the Mural Capital of Wisconsin and in order to promote the wall art, Ashland County received a $19,450 grant from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism.

"They are historical murals, so they all have a story to tell. Along with the promotion we have this really fun treasure hunt. You can play it on your smart phone, you can play it on line," said Mcphetridge.

The chamber also received a $5,950 grant to be used to promote the "Chick-uamegon" 5K/10K walk run which will have an additional course.

This year. a 20 mile looped bike course around the Ashland area will also be an option.

Along the waterfront, walls of the Blue Wave Complex are going up and will provide a different kind of playing.

"They'll do kayak rentals paddle board rentals and possibly bike rentals. This is also located on the bike trial that goes through all of Ashland," said Brian Hagstrom, building designer for C&S Design and Engineering.

The $1.5 million development will also include a restaurant, retail space and a luxury hotel.

"The design was influenced by the imagery of the Chequamegon bay area. That includes ore ships that used to come through the bay and also fish, and brownstone buildings that are on Main Street in Ashland," said Hagstrom.

Which is all part of a bigger design to promote tourism on the South Shore.

Last year, the tourism economy in Wisconsin totaled an estimated $17.5 billion.

Posted to the web by Kati Anderson.