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Economic Engine: Metro Milwaukee fuels revenue growth for Wisconsin’s tourism industry

VISIT Milwaukee released final statistics from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism indicating strong growth in the tourism market for 2018 on May 6.

The data shows that the Greater Milwaukee area continues to be the state’s largest tourism market, accounting for 26 percent of total tourism economic impact to the state. The figures are estimates from The Economic Impact of Tourism in Wisconsin, an annual tourism impact study commissioned by the state and conducted by Tourism Economics and released by Travel Wisconsin in early May to celebrate National Travel & Tourism Week.

“These numbers indicate continued strong growth for tourism throughout the region,” said Paul Upchurch, president & CEO of VISIT Milwaukee. “The city has arrived – from major conventions like the DNC to a rapidly growing leisure market, it’s clear that the secret is out about Milwaukee. Our wonderfully random amenities, venues, attractions, and natural resources make Milwaukee a top choice for visitors.”

BY THE NUMBERS – In Milwaukee County:

  • Total business sales related to tourism were estimated at $3.7 billion, an increase of 5.2 percent over 2017.
  • Direct visitor spending increased by $115 million to surpass $2.1 billion in 2018 – an increase of nearly $10 million per month. Visitor spending growth accelerated to 5.8 percent, from 3.1 percent in 2017. Spending growth was led by increases in retail and recreational spending, while spending on lodging reached $385 million, increasing 4.9 percent.
  • Tourism supported 32,921 full-time jobs, up 2.2 percent over 2017. Without tourism jobs, Milwaukee County’s unemployment rate for 2018 would have been three times higher.
  • Total labor income from tourism was $1.17 billion, an increase of 3.7 percent over 2017.
  • State and local tax revenue generated by tourism was $246 million, up 3.6 percent over 2017. In the absence of the state and local taxes generated by tourism, each Milwaukee County household would need to pay an additional $645 to maintain the current level of government services.

BY THE NUMBERS – In the 4 County area of Greater Milwaukee:

  • Total business sales related to tourism were estimated at $5.7 billion
  • Direct visitor spending in 2018 totaled $3.2 billion
  • Tourism supported 52,357 full-time jobs
  • Total labor income from tourism was $1.72 billion
  • State and local tax revenue generated by tourism was $372 million

Milwaukee will host League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) National Convention this July, and the Democratic National Convention following in July 2020.

“We’re very optimistic 2020 could be a record setter,” Upchurch added. “People will be very curious about the city that is hosting the DNC and I expect 2020 to be a good year all the way around.”

© Photo

Lee Matz

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