Wisconsin Tourism Secretary Klett Receives International Award for Tourism Marketing

MADISON, Wis. – Wisconsin Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett is being recognized internationally among the “Top Women in Travel.” Klett was one of four tourism professionals from around the world honored for “Outstanding Women in Destination Management/Marketing” by Women in Travel and Tourism International (WITTI). The awards are the first of their kind in which women recognize their peers for outstanding contributions to the travel and tourism industry. A list of the honorees is available online.   

“I’m extremely honored to receive this award and to be in the company of such dedicated individuals,” said Klett. “I believe, as does WITTI, that the travel industry can do more to increase the low numbers of women in senior positions, and I take the mentoring responsibility that goes with that very seriously.”

According to WITTI, women make up the bulk of travel industry employees, yet remain disproportionately underrepresented in most senior ranks of travel and tourism organizations.

Klett added that she shares this award with her team at the Department of Tourism, which has five of the six management positions held by women.

In the six years Klett has held her cabinet position, the Wisconsin tourism industry has seen a 35% jump in economic impact, with 2016 delivering a record-breaking $20 billion in visitor spending. On her watch, the Department is also closing in on nearly 100 international, national and regional marketing awards. Under her leadership, the Department of Tourism has enlisted celebrities including basketball legend Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Green Bay Packer Jordy Nelson, UW Men’s Basketball Coach Bo Ryan, and actors Henry Winkler and Tony Shalhoub to star in its TV ads. She cut the ribbon on a Travel Wisconsin Supper Club concession stand inside Lambeau Field, the first of its kind in any NFL stadium.

“Wisconsin’s travel and hospitality industry is crucial to our state and is a top performing sector of our economy,” Governor Scott Walker said. “Stephanie has re-energized our tourism marketing efforts and industry relationships with her vision, leadership and enthusiasm.”

“Stephanie has brought boundless energy to the Department at the cabinet level and to the industry as a whole, and that energy has propelled Wisconsin tourism to record levels,” said Lola Roeh, general manager of the landmark Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake, Wis., member of the Wisconsin Governor’s Council on Tourism, and recently named to the board of directors of the American Hotel and Lodging Association. “She is a master at leveraging every resource available to benefit the Wisconsin tourism industry and we’re so proud to have her represent us nationally and internationally.”

Klett is committed to strengthening the partnership between the tourism industry and the Department of Tourism. She spearheaded a customer service training program that has trained 14,000 people to date, reopened Wisconsin Welcome Centers thanks to a public/private partnership model, and teamed up with tourism partners on the “Big Bundle Up,” an initiative to collect winter clothing items to donate to local charitable organizations statewide. Klett and her team work side-by-side with other tourism groups in the state as well, including Native American Tourism of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Arts Board.

While admirable achievements on their own, all were accomplished with a budget that pales in comparison to other major destinations in the U.S. such as Las Vegas and California.

Wisconsin owes its defining brand of “fun” to Klett and her team too. Today the state ranks #1 in fun, welcoming atmosphere, uniqueness, affordability, and outdoor recreation among its Midwest competitors according to research by Longwoods International.

Klett is a native of Beloit, Wis., and a graduate of Beloit College. She’s also a longtime AIDS activist and a volunteer for hospice causes. She has happily lived in Wisconsin all her life.

About the Wisconsin Department of Tourism

The mission of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism is to market the State as the Midwest’s premier travel destination for fun by executing industry-leading marketing programs and establishing strategic partnerships. The Department plays a significant role in generating greater economic impact and jobs for Wisconsin. The portal for traveler information can be found at: www.travelwisconsin.com.


The mission of Women in Travel and Tourism International (WITTI) is to enhance the success of women in the travel and tourism industry through peer-to-peer networking, mentoring, and giving back to the global travel community in meaningful ways. The specific benefits WITTI offers its members include education and professional development; advocacy in promoting the visibility of women in the senior ranks of the travel industry; and research on the status of women in industry. Online at womenintravelandtourism.com.