In 2011, tourists spent nearly $10 billion in Wisconsin, supporting more than 150,000 jobs and generating over $1 billion in state-local tax revenues, according to “Vacationing in Wisconsin,” a new report from the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance (WISTAX).
According to economic impact reports prepared for the state, tourists spent an estimated $9.9 billion in Wisconsin in 2011, with the majority spent on lodging (26 percent of the total), food (25 percent) and retail (22 percent).
Traveler spending directly or indirectly supported 152,266 jobs and generated $3.3 billion in tourism labor income. Tourist expenditures were estimated to have generated $1.3 billion in state-local tax revenues, or about 5 percent of total taxes and fees collected at the state and local levels in 2011.
As might be expected, tourism’s impact varies by county and region.
However, WISTAX president Todd Berry said, “What is particularly important about tourism is that, unlike other leading industries, it makes a significant contribution in many parts of the state, both urban and rural.”
Particularly in northern counties, the leisure and hospitality industry group, which includes employment in the arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodations, and food service industries, is very important. In Florence, Vilas, and Bayfield counties, leisure and hospitality accounted for more than 20 percent of all jobs. Similarly, travel spending as a percentage of personal income illustrates the impact tourism has on northern counties, as traveler spending was 8 percent of personal income or more in Vilas, Oneida, Sawyer, Marinette, and Iron counties.