Visit Milwaukee is anticipating record tourism numbers in Milwaukee in the coming year, thanks in large part to a number of conventions, meetings and events to be hosted in the city.
More than 212,000 convention room nights have already been secured for 2013, according to an announcement the organization made during its annual meeting, held Tuesday at the Harley-Davidson Museum.
The 2013 convention room nights add up to an estimated $130 million in economic impact, said Paul Upchurch, president and chief executive officer of Visit Milwaukee.
On average, the city books about 180,000 convention room nights per year.
Summer events are responsible for many of the 212,000 convention room nights. Tourism typically ramps up in Milwaukee during summer, and this year is no exception, Upchurch said.
Milwaukee’s summer tourism season will kick off with a six-day Moose International Convention over Memorial Day Weekend. The city will also play host to Northwestern Mutual’s 133rd annual meeting in July, the 2013 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships in August that is expected to draw 10,000 people, and the National Governors Association annual meeting also scheduled for August.
The city will ring in the end of summer with Harley-Davidson’s much anticipated 110th anniversary celebration.
“You add all that up, and it’s going to be a very, very busy year,” Upchurch said.
Visit Milwaukee is still receiving inquiries about bookings for smaller summer conventions and meetings, Upchurch said.
He also attributes the expected record tourism year to a boost in consumer confidence and a boost in awareness of Milwaukee as a viable convention destination.
The 2012 Meeting and Convention Planners Survey, a questionnaire conducted by the Watkins Research Group that consults more than 700 meeting planners nationwide about where they prefer to book events, rated Milwaukee at average or above in terms of how desirable it is as a convention destination.
2010 results from the survey had rated Milwaukee below average. With the bump in rating, Milwaukee ranked as the second most improved city by rating standards, Upchurch said.
Milwaukee also was named the top value destination in 2012 by meeting planners who have held meetings in the city.
That says a lot about their experience here, Upchurch said.
To attract meeting planners to Milwaukee, the convention and visitors bureau relies on a sales force of nine people who travel the country attending tradeshows and other events to network with planners. Visit Milwaukee also markets in national trade publications and devotes a section of its website to information about Milwaukee for interested planners.
Marketing dollars are largely funded by tourism taxes. Tourism taxes paid at the hotel level in downtown Milwaukee were up 5.5 percent in 2012 while tourism taxes paid at the hotel level for Milwaukee County were up 4.5 percent.
“So having good years has given us the ability to market more,” Upchurch said.
For more information about upcoming events and conventions in Milwaukee, visit www.visitmilwaukee.org/events.