Washburn County Sees Increase in Tourism for 8th Year in a Row!

Friday, May 4, 2018 | Submitted by Michell Martin |


WASHBURN COUNTY -- For the travelers that helped Wisconsin achieve a $631 million increase in tourism economic impact in 2017, 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 visitors generate. A study conducted by Tourism Economics shows the impact of tourism on the state’s economy reached $20.6 billion in 2017, an increase of 3.2 percent from the previous year and a nearly 40% increase since 2011. 

Washburn County once again saw an increase in visitor spending reaching $45.7 million dollars in total business sales, an increase of 3.22% from 2016. Tourism is big business in Washburn County, proven year after year by the influx of visitors and second homeowners we see frequenting our businesses and communities during the summer months. Not only do visitors help our economy during the summer months, but being a year-round vacation destination, we see a significant impact in all seasons. 

So who’s behind all of this tourism business? There are hundreds of tourism-related businesses throughout the county who work hard day in and day out to offer an incredible experience to our visitors. These businesses create a community of tourism businesses that work together to promote the area. The Washburn County Tourism Association (WCTA) works with and helps those businesses by marketing the area to potential visitors year-round. The WCTA Board of Directors is comprised of business owners and leaders from throughout the county who come together to coordinate an organized tourism effort, making Washburn County one of the premier destinations in Northwest Wisconsin. 

Some of the great work coming out of WCTA is a new Namekagon River project, locally led by Michelle Martin, Executive Director for WCTA and Kaitlin Hanson, Assistant Director for WCTA. Our team is working closely with Bayfield, Burnett, and Sawyer Counties, in addition to the Wisconsin Department of Tourism and National Park Service to shine the spotlight on the Namekagon River: Wisconsin’s Moving National Park. In addition to the Namekagon project, WCTA manages a year-round marketing campaign, bringing visitors from all over the Midwest (and beyond) to visit our great area. WCTA also operates the Washburn County Visitor Center located in Spooner near the intersection of Highways 63 and 70, and coordinates a variety of projects to enhance and promote the area. 

“Our team at Washburn County Tourism Assn. is privileged to be the marketing arm for Washburn County,” said Martin. “We work hard every single day coming up with new ways to promote our area and help keep our businesses thriving. We were thrilled to receive the results of our efforts with the 2017 economic impact numbers being up yet again. This is extremely encouraging and certainly gives us even more motivation to move things forward and bring our promotion of the area to the next level yet. “ 

Statewide, traveler spending generated $1.5 billion in state and local revenue and $1.2 billion in federal taxes.

“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 Secretary, Stephanie Klett said. 

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, open a business, attend college or retire.

Klett added, “We’ve found success in marketing Wisconsin under the brand of fun and our tourism industry is leveraging the brand in their own advertising efforts. These results 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 works with international research firms Tourism Economics and Longwoods International. 



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