Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Milwaukee Has $5.7 Billion Tourism Impact

One in four state tourism dollars generated by metro Milwaukee.

By - May 8th, 2019 01:21 pm
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Cash. (CC0 Creative Commons).

Cash. (CC0 Creative Commons).

“The secret is out about Milwaukee,” says VISIT Milwaukee President and CEO Paul Upchurch.

An annual, statewide report on the economic impact of tourism found that the industry is driven by the four-county Milwaukee area, which accounted for a $5.7 billion impact from tourism in 2018, with $3.7 billion of that coming in Milwaukee County alone.

Metro Milwaukee continues to be the state’s largest tourism market, with 26 percent of the total economic impact in Wisconsin occurring in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Washington and Ozaukee counties.

The study, prepared for the Wisconsin Department of Tourism by Philadelphia-based Tourism Economics, examines the direct and indirect impacts of tourism on the state’s economy.

The news statewide continues to be positive as the total number of visitors and total spending has risen steadily for the past five years. Spending from the 112 million visitors to the state rose 4.9 percent in 2018 to reach $13.3 billion, an increase of $4.1 billion since 2010. Total visits have grown by 19 million since 2010.

Of that $13.3 billion, only $1.74 billion is a result of business trips with the rest coming from leisure travel. Most of the spending originates from visitors from the other 49 states ($12.7 billion), with “overseas” ($570 million) and Canada ($40 million) representing much smaller shares.

The study states that when visitors come to Wisconsin they spend money on lodging (27 percent of spending), food and beverage (26 percent), retail (20 percent), recreation (14 percent) and transportation (13 percent).

A calculation by study preparer Tourism Economics found that $13.3 billion in visitor spending resulted in $3.8 billion in indirect economic impact and $4.4 billion in induced spending. The firm defines indirect impacts as purchases of supporting goods and services by those directly selling to visitors. “Induced impact is generated when employees whose wages are generated either directly or indirectly by tourism, spend those wages in the local economy,” says the report.

After excluding products and services that have to be imported to Wisconsin, the report finds that visitors add $9.6 billion to the state’s gross domestic product.

A press release touting the study states: “In the absence of the state and local taxes generated by tourism, each Milwaukee County household would need to pay an additional $645 to maintain the current level of government services.”

The state anticipates a surge in tourism in 2020 with the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee and Ryder Cup golf tournament in Kohler.

The Wisconsin Department of Tourism, under Governor Tony Evers, is led by Milwaukee resident Sara Meaney. Her appointment has not yet been confirmed by the state senate.

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