Press Release

Spooner, WI -- The Wisconsin Department of Tourism today announced tourism’s impact on the state’s economy reached $22.2 billion in 2019. The findings are a part of a study conducted by Tourism Economics highlighting continued growth across the state’s tourism industry. Last year, tourism supported 202,217 jobs and visitor trips topped 113 million visits. The announcement comes as Wisconsin’s tourism industry celebrates this year’s National Travel & Tourism Week (May 3-9) and plans for an economic bounce back when public health authorities determine it is safe to do so.

Washburn County saw an increase of 1.78% in total impact, bringing the total business sales to $47.1 million in 2019. The Direct Visitor Spending also increased by .83%, bringing that number to $30.8 million. “While we are dealing with extremely challenging times for our tourism businesses in Washburn County, the release of the economic impact numbers should remind us that this is temporary and our tourism industry was strong and will be again,” said Michelle Martin, Executive Director of Washburn County Tourism Association. “Our tourism team is working hard coming up with new marketing initiatives to aid in Washburn County’s recovery when the time is right. We are having daily conversations with business owners and we are inspired by the innovative ideas they have come up with to not only survive this, but improve their business models for future success. Our team will continue to work hard to position Washburn County for the best possible recovery when we are able to welcome visitors to our area again.”

Statewide, traveler spending generated $1.6 billion in state and local tax revenue and $1.3 billion in federal taxes. Tax revenue generated by tourism offset $687 in taxes per household. Last year, tourism achieved a Return on Investment of 8 to 1: $8 in tax revenue per $1 promotional spend. Additional economic impact findings, including individual county figures are also available at

“Travel plays a critical role in Wisconsin’s economic prosperity. Every year our state’s tourism industry celebrates National Travel and Tourism Week, and the Department of Tourism uses this time to release the previous year’s economic impact numbers,” said Secretary-designee, Sara Meaney. “We know that 2020 will not look like 2019. But the good news is that on the heels of a banner year for Wisconsin travel and tourism, the state has shown itself to be an increasingly sought-after destination, which gives the department confidence that it remains on the radar as a preferred destination for visitors. I encourage you to take pause and celebrate the positive news of 2019 as we look forward to supporting this important industry when it is safe to travel again.”

The Department of Tourism works with international research firms Tourism Economics and Longwoods International.


Last Update: May 06, 2020 7:21 am CDT

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