BURNETT COUNTY, Wis. -- For the travelers that helped Wisconsin achieve a $700 million increase in tourism economic impact in 2016, it’s all about the fun and memories. For the state’s tourism industry, it’s big business. And for taxpayers and residents, it’s all about jobs and tax revenue those travelers generate. A study conducted by Tourism Economics shows the impact of tourism on the state’s economy reached $20 billion in 2016, an increase of 3.5 percent from the previous year. 

“Tourism plays a critical role in our community and continues to grow, and from an economic standpoint, the numbers reflect that,” said Larry Main, Burnett County Tourism Coalition (BCTC) President. “Last year’s numbers are very encouraging. In fact, the numbers from the previous three years show continued growth.”

Just 4 years ago, tourism had been on the decline for Burnett County, a decline which spurred the creation of BCTC. The board and membership, comprised of volunteers, has worked diligently to promote the County as a tourism destination to the region. Initiatives include a new, tourism-focused website (BurnettCountyFun.com), the creation and management of several social media platforms and regional newspaper and magazine advertising. 

“Our mission to grow tourism in Burnett County is being realized,” added Main. “We are working to support all of the great businesses and organizations that make our area the perfect place for both residents and visitors.”

Statewide, traveler spending generated $1.5 billion in state and local revenue and $1.1 billion in federal taxes. Revenue growth from 2015 to 2016 continued for neighboring counties as well, however, Burnett County did see the largest percentage increase of all the surrounding counties. 

“Traveler spending has grown an average of 4.5% per year since 2011,” Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett said. “It’s a tremendous credit to the tourism industry in all 72 counties and the work they do to create fun vacation experiences, market their destinations, and provide great customer service that makes travelers want to return to Wisconsin each year.”

Tourism continues to be one of Wisconsin’s most important economic resources. Research shows that tourism advertising goes beyond just promoting vacations; it also positively influences the state’s overall image as a great place to live, find a job, or open a business.

Klett added, “These results also let us know what we are doing is working and that investing in tourism not only benefits the economy, it also influences the way people think about Wisconsin.” 

The Department of Tourism worked with a national research firm Tourism Economics and Longwoods International to produce the reports. 

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