Greater Milwaukee continues to see increase in tourism

Visitors spent $2 billion in Milwaukee County in 2017

Potawatomi Hotel & Casino is Milwaukee’s largest tourist attraction with 6 million visitors a year. The hotel is currently expanding with a second tower.

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:11 pm

Visitors spent $2 billion at hotels, restaurants, retailers and attractions in the greater Milwaukee area in 2017, a 3 percent increase from 2016, according to the latest numbers released from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism.

Potawatomi Hotel & Casino is Milwaukee’s largest tourist attraction with 6 million visitors a year. A second tower is currently under construction there.

Milwaukee continues to be the state’s largest tourism market, accounting for 20 percent of the total tourism economic impact in the state.

Total business sales related to tourism were estimated at $3.5 billion, an increase of 3.2 percent over 2016, with tourism supporting 32,150 full-time jobs in 2017.

State and local tax revenue generated by tourism was $237 million, up 2.5 percent over 2016.

In the four-county greater Milwaukee area, visitor spending in 2017 totaled $3 billion, according to the Department of Tourism.

Total business sales related to tourism is estimated at $5.4 billion and state and local tax revenue generated by tourism was $360 million.

The numbers are estimates from The Economic Impact of Tourism in Wisconsin report, 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 in downtown Milwaukee and throughout the entire region,” Paul Upchurch, president & CEO of VISIT Milwaukee said in a written statement. “Our community is booming with development, and the completion of projects like the new Bucks Arena, The Hop (Milwaukee streetcar project), and major events like the Harley-Davidson 115th Anniversary celebration will only increase tourism revenue for local businesses for the foreseeable future.”

Across the state, Wisconsin’s tourism reached $20.6 billion in 2017, up $631 million from 2016.

Last year’s visitor volumes topped 110 million visits, an increase of 17.5 million, compared to 92.5 million in 2011. Tourism supported a total of 195,255 jobs in 2017, up from 172,000 in 2011, a 13.5 percent increase.

“For seven years in a row, Wisconsin’s tourism industry has had a positive impact on the economy and job growth,”  Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett said in a written statement. “Research shows us that the increased investment in marketing the brand of fun positively influences the way people think about Wisconsin as a top to place to vacation, work, live, attend college, and own a second home.”

Read more economic data reports at the BizTracker page.

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