Governor Scott Walker joined Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett in traveling throughout the state to highlight Wisconsin’s tourism economy, which reached $20 billion in 2016. This marks a $700 million boost from $19.3 billion in 2015. The announcement comes as Governor Walker and Secretary Klett kick-off this year’s National Travel and Tourism Week, which runs May 7- May 13. Throughout the day, they will visit top tourist destinations in Madison, La Crosse, Appleton, and Minocqua.
“The travel and hospitality industry continues to be crucial to our state and is consistently a top performing sector of our economy,” Governor Walker said. “Investing in tourism promotion and marketing at the national, state, and local level is not only an effective way to attract visitors and grow the economy, it also enhances the image of Wisconsin as a great place to live and do business.”
Lower gas prices, consumer confidence, and spending increases in the lodging sector were all key factors in the 3.5 percent growth seen in 2016. The tourism industry continues to show stable, long-term growth according to recently-released economic impact figures.
“For six years in a row, Wisconsin’s tourism industry has had a positive impact on the economy and job growth,” said Secretary Klett. “The research shows that the increased investment in marketing our brand of fun continues to positively influence the way people think about Wisconsin as a great place to vacation, work, and live.”
- The total six-year growth of tourism activity in the state is $5.2 billion, a 35 percent increase according to Tourism Economics, the research firm for the Department of Tourism.
- Visitor volume for the same period is up 15.2 million from 92.5 million to 107.7 million in 2016.
- Additionally, international travel to Wisconsin was up $100 million.
- Last year’s decline in gas prices resulted in lower transportation costs for visitors and increased spending on lodging, restaurants, and recreation.
- Lodging, which makes up over 27 percent of visitor spending, showed the strongest growth at 5.8 percent.
- Visitors spent over $3 billion on food and beverage, the second largest sector of the tourism economy.
- Traveler spending on recreation had a growth of 4.2 percent.
- Tourism directly and indirectly supported 193,500 jobs in Wisconsin’s labor market in 2016.
- The growth of tourism over the last six years has helped add 21,500 jobs, a 12.4 percent increase.
- Visitors generated $1.5 billion in state and local revenue, saving Wisconsin taxpayers $650 per household.