The Power of Tourism

The Power of Tourism


Bookmark this page or download our pdf, just in case there’s ever a question in your mind about tourism’s impact on the vitality of Wisconsin’s economy.

Tourism Works for Wisconsin

  • Tourism had a $20 billion impact on the state's economy in 2016, up $700 million, or 3.5% from $19.3 billion in 2015. The total six-year growth of tourism activity is up more than $5.2 billion, a 35% increase from $14.8 billion.
  • Visitor growth topped 107.7 million in 2016, a six-year increase of 15.2 million.
  • International travel in 2016 was up $100 million over 2015.
  • The tourism economy generated $1.5 billion in state and local revenue and $1.1 billion in federal taxes.
  • Each household in Wisconsin would need to be taxed an additional $650 per year to replace the revenue tourism generates for state and local governments.
  • Tourism directly and indirectly supports 193,500 jobs in Wisconsin, a six-year addition of more than 21,500 jobs to the state's total employment.
  • The tourism economy supports 35% of all recreation jobs and 23% of all food & beverage jobs in Wisconsin. 

Marketing to Grow Tourism

  • The Department’s new marketing campaign took the Wisconsin brand of “real fun” to the next level with new TV commercials and online videos highlighting authentic travel experiences from real visitors to Wisconsin.  
  • Tourism generates a positive impression of the state, which is critical for economic development. According to Longwoods International, Wisconsin perennially ranks #1 among its Midwest competitors, in fun, family friendliness, uniqueness, affordability, outdoor recreation and welcoming atmosphere
  • In 2016, the number of visitor sessions on reached an all-time high of 9.1 million, a 26% increase from 2015.
  • Public Relations efforts generated more than 2,000 media placements for a total of $80 million in free press.

Tourism Grant Programs

  • In fiscal 2016, the Department funded 57 Joint Effort Marketing projects, awarding a total of more than $1.1 million. Visitor expenditures driven by the marketing from these projects will exceed $35 million.
  • Projects receiving "Ready, Set, Go" sports marketing grants in fiscal 2016 are expected to drive an estimated $7.9 million in visitor spending.
  • The estimated future economic impact of Meetings Mean Business grants funded in fiscal 2016 is $5.1 million.
  • Over 1 million travelers were served by 21 tourism information centers receiving grants from the Department’s Tourist Information Center (TIC) Grant program.