Wisconsin sets new record for tourism

Jun. 8—SUPERIOR — Gov. Tony Evers and Wisconsin Department of Tourism Secretary Anne Sayers announced Tuesday, June 6 that Wisconsin's tourism industry saw a record-breaking year in 2022.

According to 2022 economic impact data, the tourism industry generated $23.7 billion in total economic impact, surpassing the previous record year of $22.2 billion set in 2019, according to figures from the Department of Tourism.

Wisconsin's total economic impact increased 13% over 2021.

"I'm so excited to be celebrating a record-breaking year for Wisconsin's tourism industry," Evers said in a news release. "This is tremendous news and a testament to the hard work of the business owners, workers, and marketing partners across the industry and our strategic investments to bolster the industry at an especially difficult time. Tourism is vital to the economic health of local communities, businesses, and workers across our state, and I'm proud of our work to support this critical industry and its success over these past few years."

In 2022, all 72 counties experienced an increase in total tourism economic impact, according to the data. Furthermore, tourism supported 174,600 part-time and full-time jobs across various sectors of the industry and generated $1.5 billion in state and local tax revenue in 2022.

In Douglas County, tourism generated $166 million in total economic impact, an increase of 10.9% over 2021 and a 7.7% increase over 2019, before the pandemic, according to state figures. Tourism generated $116 million in direct visitor spending and supported 1,279 jobs generating $36.6 million in wages in Douglas County in 2022. It also contributed $11.7 million in state and local taxes.

Generally, it's people getting back at it after the pandemic, said Lindsey Graskey, chairperson of Superior's Tourism Development Commission. While Superior was in a rebuilding year in 2022, she said the state has done a good job promoting the state's attributes.

Superior launched its tourism marketing campaign,

Gotta Be Superior,

to promote the city and Douglas County.

"Now we're seeing a real interest in the 2023 year," Graskey said. "I look forward to see what comes out of the summer campaign and everything we've been working on including with the county."

Marketing investments from the Department of Tourism, relief dollars allocated by the governor and the efforts of communities across Wisconsin helped contribute to the new record, as well as the highest-ever overnight visitation rate, the news release said.

In 2022, there were 111.1 million visits in Wisconsin, which was up 8.8 million visits, or 8.7 percent, over the previous year, the figures showed. That includes a record 45.4 million overnight visits, an increase of 13.8 percent from 2021. Overnight visitors, on average, spent nearly three times as much as day trip visitors.

"Tourism is both big fun and big business," Sayers said in the news release. "I'm so grateful for the innovation and dedication of the folks who make up the Wisconsin tourism industry. Each one of them played a role in setting this record ... I congratulate the entire industry on an incredible record-breaking year."

According to the secretary, Native Nations of Wisconsin also play a critical role in enriching the state's tourism industry offerings and attracting travelers to the state. Because Native tourism data is private, the total economic impact of Native Nations tourism is not wholly reflected in this report.