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21 Jul, 2017

Wisconsin Tourism Flushes Competition for First-Ever International Toilet Awards

MADISON, Wis., 19 July 2017, BUSINESS WIRE–The Wisconsin Department of Tourism’s award case is so clogged with trophies – nearly 100 amassed in the last six years alone – it may need to call in a plumber to make room for this latest award.

Wisconsin was the only destination in North America to be honored in the inaugural International Toilet Tourism Awards, with a trio of toilet-happy spots in the state singled out for their stellar bathroom acumen: the Kohler Design Center in Kohler; the SafeHouse Bar & Restaurant in Milwaukee, and, for something a bit more rustic, the Perkinstown Outhouse Challenge in Perkinstown. The announcement was made by Wisconsin Department of Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett.

Kohler Design Center’s “Great Wall of China” Photo Courtesy of Donald S. Abrams

“This is the equivalent of a royal flush for Wisconsin tourism,” proclaimed Klett, who is no stranger to all things royal holding the titles to the state’s Musky Queen and Limburger Queen among others during her tenure as tourism secretary. “When I tout that Wisconsin has the best seats in the house, I’m usually referring to theaters, but this time it’s all about the toilets,” said Klett.

The awards are sponsored by MyTravelResearch.com, a market research group that found unique bathroom experiences not only have great talk value, they also encourage visits to a destination. Along with the thrones in Wisconsin, bathrooms in Australia and New Zealand were honored.

“I never thought I’d be happy to report that Wisconsin tourism is going down the toilet, but we are, and in the best way possible,” said Klett. She went on to clarify that “clean, well maintained and easily accessible restrooms contribute to a positive tourism impression, and we’ve got that covered top to bottom.”

National travel and tourism expert Roger Brooks echoed that sentiment, the serious part of it at least.

“Congrats! Toilets really are an economic development tool. It’s the number one reason passers-by stop. And once you get them to stop, you have a four-times greater chance of them spending money – ‘while we’re here, let’s get something to drink or eat,’” said Brooks. “Toilets do attract more than just flies!”

Klett further noted that the eight Travel Wisconsin Welcome Centers, located at key entry points into the state, offer a welcome bathroom break along with lots of travel literature and one-on-one vacation advice from friendly staff. The same can also be said for many community visitor bureaus and businesses around Wisconsin.

Wisconsin’s tourism economy reached $20 billion in 2016, an increase of 3.5 percent from the previous year, with traveler spending growing an average of 4.5% per year since 2011.

In the news release from MyTravelResearch.com, which created the competition, judges remarked that “Wisconsin is a destination that celebrates the power of the WC as a tourism attraction.”

“When it comes to vacation experiences in Wisconsin fun rules and our three winners demonstrate that restrooms can be both functional and fun,” concluded Klett.

Here’s a looky-loo at the winning trio:

Kohler Design Center, Kohler

This showcase of innovative product design features a two-story wall of toilets commonly referred to as Kohler’s version of “The Great Wall of China,” made up of 177 toilets stacked to the ceiling. The Kohler Design Center attracts 150,000 visitors to its “Disney World of plumbing” each year.

SafeHouse Bar & Restaurant, Milwaukee

The women’s bathroom in this popular spy-themed restaurant features a portrait of a young (and rather exposed) Burt Reynolds with a strategically placed, moveable red heart. If a patron tries to take a peek behind the heart, the entire bar is alerted. The men’s bathroom has stalls labeled “FBI” and “CIA.”

Perkinstown Outhouse Challenge, Perkinstown

Every July 4th holiday in the little unincorporated community of Perkinstown, you’ll find competitors racing handmade outhouses outfitted with wheels around an obstacle course, with a “Race of Thrones” award to the fastest outhouse and a separate award for “Prettiest Potty.” Festival-goers can try their luck with the “TP Toss” and “Plunger Relay.”

About the Wisconsin Department of Tourism