MADISON, Wis. — A Milwaukee
Brewers playoff run and a giant Harley-Davidson birthday party
helped boost tourism spending in Wisconsin last year, state
officials said Monday.
Visitor spending in Wisconsin increased by nearly 5 percent in 2018,
to $13.3 billion, according to a report released Monday by the
Department of Tourism. The state saw 112 million visitors, which was
2 million more than it had in 2017. Visitation has now grown by at
least 2 percent in each of the past five years.
Kristina LeVan, a Department of Tourism spokeswoman, said several
large events drew visitors to Wisconsin last year, including the
Brewers first playoff games in seven years and Harley-Davidson's
days-long 115th anniversary celebration in Milwaukee in late August
and early September.
She noted that Madison hosted the CrossFit Games and speculated that
large numbers of golfers may have visited Wisconsin to play the Erin
Hills course, which hosted the 2017 U.S. Open. Golfers typically
travel to courses that hold major events to experience playing on
them, she said.
The report, which was compiled by research company Tourism
Economics, found that the recreational, lodging, food and beverage
sectors all saw upticks in spending. The most spending occurred in
the lodging sector, at $3.6 billion, which was up from $3.4 billion
The tourism industry generated $1.2 billion in federal tax revenue,
$879 million in state tax revenue and $703 million in local tax
revenue, the report found. The industry supported nearly 200,000
jobs in the state last year.
Tourism Secretary Sara Meaney and Gov. Tony Evers planned to travel
the state this week to promote the report. Their schedule Monday
included stops at Rib Mountain State Park in Wausau and Great
Northern Distilling in Plover. They planned to visit to Island
Outdoors, a bait shop and watercraft rental business on French
Island just outside La Crosse; the Pablo Center at the Confluence, a
performing arts center in Eau Claire; and Sassy Cow Creamery in
Columbus on Tuesday.
They'll finish their joint tour Wednesday with a visit to
Milwaukee's Mitchell International Airport.