Kicking off National Travel and Tourism Week, Wisconsin’s Department of Tourism looks to grow and expand the state’s tourism industry.
According to a Department of Tourism report released in April, growth in Wisconsin’s tourism industry boosted the state’s economy by $19.3 billion in 2015, which is a 4 percent increase since 2014. The department looks to increase this growth in the future.
Wisconsin Department of Tourism spokesperson Lisa Marshall said tourism industry a lot of the state tourism industry’s growth could be attributed to extensive marketing campaigns. She said the way the state is marketed has changed over the years.
“We are constantly diversifying and adding new and exciting things for travelers,” Marshall said.
Marshall said one of the key parts of the campaign was the Department of Tourism’s website, which helps travelers plan their trips to Wisconsin. She said the department has been increasing its online presence and social media advertisements. These initiatives contributed to a 36 percent increase in the number of website visitors since 2014.
According to Gov. Scott Walker’s statement, the 4 percent increase amounted to $800 million more in state tourism revenue. He said the state also ranks first in the Midwest for outdoor recreation, family atmosphere and affordability.
“Tourism has long been a significant contributor to Wisconsin’s economy and this year is no different,” Walker said. “Investing in tourism promotion and marketing at the national, state and local levels is not only an effective way to attract visitors and grow the economy, it also enhances the image of the state as a place to live and do business.”
Marshall said a decrease in gas prices also contributed to increased tourism revenue. Lower gas prices allowed tourists to spend more on other things like lodging and retail. Because of this, hotels and other lodging properties were able to charge pre-2008 recession room rates.
Walker said tourism is important to Wisconsin because it supports jobs. In 2015 it supported nearly 190,000 jobs, and increases in tourism saved taxpayers $640 per household. Marshall said for every $1 spent on a summer ad campaign, the state earned $8 in added tax revenue.
Marshall said the Department of Tourism aims to promote family traveling as well as Wisconsin’s traditions in its advertising.
“We want to show that Wisconsin is a fun place to be and that there are a lot of wonderful things to do here,” Marshall said.