Economic impact of tourism felt in jobs, income, business sales

MILWAUKEE, WI - (May 4, 2018) – VISIT Milwaukee today released final data from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism indicating strong growth in the tourism market for 2017. The data continues to show that Milwaukee is the state’s largest tourism market, accounting for 20 percent of total tourism economic impact to the state.

In Milwaukee County:

  • Direct visitor spending in 2017 totaled $2 billion, up 3.1 percent over 2016
  • Total business sales related to tourism were estimated at $3.5 billion, an increase of 3.2 percent over 2016 
  • Tourism supported 32,150 full-time jobs, up 1 percent over 2016
  • Total labor income from tourism was $1.1 billion, an increase of 1.5 percent over 2016
  • State and local tax revenue generated by tourism was $237 million, up 2.5 percent over 2016

In the Greater Milwaukee (4 county) area:

  • Direct visitor spending in 2017 totaled $3 billion
  • Total business sales related to tourism were estimated at $5.4 billion
  • Tourism supported 51,200 full-time jobs
  • Total labor income from tourism was $1.7 billion
  • State and local tax revenue generated by tourism was $360 million

The numbers are estimates from The Economic Impact of Tourism in Wisconsin, an annual tourism impact study commissioned by the state and conducted by Tourism Economics and released by Travel Wisconsin in early May to celebrate National Travel & Tourism Week.

“These numbers indicate continued strong growth for tourism in downtown Milwaukee and throughout the entire region,” said Paul Upchurch, President & CEO of VISIT Milwaukee. “Our community is booming with development, and the completion of projects like the new Bucks Arena, The Hop, and major events like the Harley-Davidson 115th Anniversary celebration will only increase tourism revenue for local businesses for the foreseeable future.”

VISIT Milwaukee will share this information along with its annual report at its annual meeting on Wednesday, May 14 at the Wisconsin Center.  

About VISIT Milwaukee

VISIT Milwaukee is the Greater Milwaukee area’s convention & visitors bureau, marketing the d estination as a top choice for business, convention, and leisure travel to national and international visitors to increase the economic impact of tourism in the region. Each year, tourism supports over 50,000 full-time jobs and brings in over $5 billion to the community.  VISIT Milwaukee has over 680 members, including hotels/motels, restaurants, attractions, services and area businesses. The City of Wauwatosa, Potawatomi Hotel & Casino and the Wisconsin Center District are strategic partners with VISIT Milwaukee, providing funding support for conventions and tourism programs.  For more information call 1-800-554-1448 or visit