State’s tourism industry grew 5% in 2012

The Wisconsin tourism industry grew 5 percent in 2012, according to new report released today by Gov. Scott Walker and Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett.

“The travel and hospitality industry continues to be a strong performing sector for Wisconsin’s economy,” Walker said. “Investing in tourism promotion and marketing at the national, state, and local level is an effective way to attract visitors and keep the economy growing.”

Tourism had a total impact of $16.8 billion on the state last year, compared to $16 billion in 2011, a 5 percent increase, according to Tourism Economics, the research firm commissioned by the Department of Tourism. Since 2010, the state’s tourism economy has experienced a 13 percent growth from $14.8 billion.

Other industry indicators included strong day traveler growth pushing recreational spending up 7 percent and a 2.7 percent daily rate increase at Wisconsin lodging properties, which helped grow overall hotel room revenue by 4.6 percent.  

Tourism supports nearly 184,000 jobs and $4.5 billion in personal income.  Fully one in 13 jobs in Wisconsin relies on tourism, and employment supported by tourism grew by 1.4 percent last year.  Visitors generated $1.3 billion in state and local revenue and $977 million in federal taxes in 2012, saving Wisconsin taxpayers nearly $575 per household.

“The past two years have seen outstanding growth for Wisconsin’s tourism industry,” Klett said. “The increased investment in tourism marketing, our effective ‘fun’ campaign, and our industry-wide collaborations have pumped $2 billion into the state’s economy since the beginning of 2011.” 

The news about last year’s expansion was of little consolation today as the tourism industry in northern Wisconsin is on the verge of a disastrous weekend. The opening day of the state’s fishing season, held on the first Saturday of May, is on ice for much of the North, because of the late spring, leaving many cottages and resorts unreserved.

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