Sophie Bolich

Milwaukee Saw Record-Breaking Tourism in 2023

Helping propel Wisconsin to back-to-back record-breaking years.

By - Jun 13th, 2024 03:16 pm
The Couture and the Milwaukee skyline. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The Couture under construction against the the Milwaukee skyline. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Tourism spending in Milwaukee County rose to historic levels last year, contributing billions to the local economy and propelling the area to an all-time record, according to the latest data from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism.

The department’s annual report, released this week, found that direct visitor spending in Milwaukee County totaled $2.3 billion in 2023, up 6.4% from the previous year.

Meanwhile, the greater Milwaukee area, which includes Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington and Waukesha counties, accounted for more than a quarter of total tourism earnings in the state, and set an all-time tourism spending record with nearly $6.4 billion in 2023.

That surpasses the previous record of $6 billion, set in 2022. The back-to-back successful years indicate the city’s continued recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which decimated tourism earnings in 2020 and 2021.

As of 2023, tourism supported 27,226 full-time jobs in Milwaukee County.

Visit Milwaukee, the city’s destination marketing organization, credited local sports teams, USA Triathlon, cruise visitors and “a robust lineup of concerts and festivals” for the record-breaking growth.

The organization also touted its own contributions, including a marketing partnership with Milwaukee Bucks forward Bobby Portis and the Milwaukee-centric TV show, “Good Things Brewing.” Additional promotions such as Milwaukee Hotel Month and Museum Days bolstered tourism during the winter months, according to a news release.

“We had an amazing 2023, and we are looking forward to continued growth in 2024,” said Peggy Williams-Smith, president and CEO of Visit Milwaukee, in a statement. “My team at Visit Milwaukee works tirelessly with partners to maximize awareness of Milwaukee and its world-class amenities.”

“Milwaukee has so much going for us — the stunning Baird Center expansion is now open, ‘Top Chef’ showing the world the caliber of our culinary scene, and all the major events happening here in 2024, I’m positive that our trend of year-over-year increases will continue.”

Milwaukee in 2023 also earned recognition as one of the nation’s best big cities in the Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards and one of Lonely Planet’s best destinations to travel in 2023.

The city is expecting another banner year for tourism in 2024, as it prepares to host large-scale events including the Republican National Convention, which expects to bring up to $200 million in revenue and 50,000 new visitors to Milwaukee over its three-day span from July 15 through 18.

The full study, conducted by Tourism Economics, is available to view online.

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Categories: Business

One thought on “Milwaukee Saw Record-Breaking Tourism in 2023”

  1. Claude Krawczyk says:

    But I thought Milwaukee was a “horrible city”???

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