Wisconsin’s tourism industry rises to $18.5 billion

Wisconsin’s tourism industry topped $18.5 billion in 2014, a $1 billion boost from $17.5 billion in 2013.

The 5.5 percent increase was spurred by a rise in both visits and spending per trip. The tourism industry continues to show stable, long-term growth.

“The travel and hospitality industry continues to be an important and strong performing sector for Wisconsin’s economy,” said Gov. Scott Walker. “Investing in tourism promotion and marketing at the national, state and local level is not only an effective way to attract visitors and grow the economy, it also enhances the image of the state as a place to live and do business.”

The total four year growth of tourism activity is $3.7 billion, up from $14.8 billion in 2010, a 25 percent increase, according to Tourism Economics, the research firm for the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. Visitor growth in Wisconsin in 2014 topped 102 million, an increase of 7 million visits since 2010. Other positive industry indicators included a 5.3 percent increase in per trip spending. That was led by recreation and entertainment, with a 7.8 percent increase, followed by lodging (7.2 percent), and food and beverage (6.4 percent). The lodging sector had a robust year, with room demand growing 3.5 percent and average room rates increasing 3.7 percent.  This was the strongest year for Wisconsin lodging properties since 2011. 

Tourism supports 187,643 jobs, adding more than 6,200 jobs to Wisconsin’s total employment since 2011. Visitors generated $1.4 billion in state and local revenue, saving Wisconsin taxpayers $620 per household. This is the first time in four years that all 72 counties posted a positive increase in visitor spending.

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