State Tourism Business Down 30% in 2020
Due to pandemic. Officials hopeful about rebound in spending in 2021.
The coronavirus pandemic hit the state’s tourism industry particularly hard in 2020, with direct spending down nearly 30 percent.
Statewide, tourism was about a $13.6 billion dollar industry in 2019, but it dropped about $4 billion dollars last year, to $9.8 billion, according to the Wisconsin Department of Tourism.
Acting Tourism Secretary Anne Sayers said people are “getting revenge” on COVID-19 and missed vacations in 2021.
National research shows 87 percent of Americans plan to travel in the next six months and plan to spend more money, Sayers said.
“We’re also finding vacations of two or more nights are up, so Wisconsin is already passing 2020, but we are also surpassing 2019, and that was a record-setting year,” Sayers said.
Dane and Milwaukee counties, which rely heavily on tourists for sports, cultural events, conventions and business travel, were the hardest hit in the state. Direct spending was down last year 39 percent in Dane County and 42.5 percent in Milwaukee County, compared to 2019, according to the Department of Tourism.
For those in Milwaukee, the list of disappointments in 2020 was long. Tens of thousands of people were supposed to visit the city for the Democratic National Convention. And staples like Summerfest and Wisconsin State Fair were also canceled.
Williams-Smith said Milwaukee’s arts and cultural scene is unrivaled across the country, and so are the miles of unrestricted Lake Michigan access.
“As people start to emerge from the cocoon that is coronavirus, I think there will still be some trepidation about being so close together and we offer all of the amenities of a big city, without bumping into 10 other people,” Williams-Smith said.
Listen to the WPR report here.
Wisconsin’s Tourism Industry Sees 30 Percent Spending Decline In 2020 Due To COVID-19 was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.