Thursday was supposed to mark the end of the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee — and a wave of economic impact to the city. While the postponed virtual convention will be smaller come August, VISIT Milwaukee still anticipates an economic lift.

“I still think there’s going to be an energy in the city,” said Peggy Williams-Smith, CEO of Visit Milwaukee. “The city will absolutely be highlighted, and I’m hopefully our citizens will have a chance to walk down the street and feel the energy with their masks on, walking six feet apart from each other.”

Williams-Smith told a Milwaukee Press event that Milwaukee will still be able to benefit economically despite the downsizing of the DNC; it just won’t look the same.

“There’s not going to be 50,000 people here; there’s not going to be the parties that there once were going to be,” she said. “But there will be opportunities for us to showcase what a great city we are to come and visit or to host your convention in. And we hope that that’s what we’ll be able to convey while the DNC is here in Milwaukee.”

The convention is still “based” in Milwaukee, and Visit Milwaukee is working to give it “Milwaukee flavor” by creating 30-second videos, essentially a highlight reel, on the unique things to do and see in the city.

Williams-Smith’s team is excited to share those videos with delegates, the livestream or on television coverage. The broadcast of those videos is not yet finalized as Williams-Smith said that Visit Milwaukee is still having conversations with the Democratic National Convention Committee.

Williams-Smith also noted that people still want to be in Milwaukee for the convention that will “hopefully” fill the city’s hotels as well as lodging in the surrounding areas. She said the county is running at 30 percent occupancy, higher than downtown’s 20 percent occupancy.

“Right now it’s an educated guess versus what’s actually going to happen,” she said. “What’s going to depend on what it looks like locally is where we are in terms of the virus, the spread, the number of cases and whether or not we’ve gone back to a place where we’re seeing a decrease in cases versus an increase in cases.”

Visit Milwaukee has high aspirations. Williams-Smith noted conversations about having the RNC and DNC occur more often.

“That’s my hope based on the amount of attention we got when we first booked the convention and the national attention we continue to receive,” Smith said. “There’s conventions that have called us in last year that would have never considered us prior to the DNC choosing us to host this year.”

Watch the video here.

See a previous story on Milwaukee tourism here.

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