Governor Scott Walker toured the Miller Coors Brewery in Milwaukee on Friday morning to kick off a statewide tour in which he’ll tout Wisconsin’s tourism industry.
— Governor Walker (@GovWalker) April 29, 2016
Walker said the economic impact of tourism in Wisconsin hit $19.3 billion in 2015, up roughly $4.5 billion since 2010.
Speaking to reporters after the tour, Walker and Wisconsin Department of Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett credited an emphasis on marketing for at least part of the spike in visitors.
Klett said the tourism marketing budget, spent on commercials and other advertising, increased from $9 million to $12.5 million in the last five years.
Walker said tourism supports, directly and indirectly, more than 190,000 jobs in Wisconsin.
“It’s a dynamic impact on the state’s economy,” Walker said.
Walker also said the Milwaukee area is a key part of the Wisconsin tourism industry as a whole. He noted that visitors from Illinois and other Midwestern states often enter Wisconsin through the Milwaukee area, and are more likely to return if they have a good experience here.
“It opens the door, literally, to the rest of the state,” Walker said.
Paul Upchurch, President and CEO of VISIT Milwaukee, said tourism in our area is up roughly four percent.
He said more than 50,000 people are employed in the tourism industry in Greater Milwaukee, through jobs at businesses like hotels, restaurants, athletic venues and convention centers.
“When you look at the number of new hotels, new restaurants opening, that’s a sign of a very strong local economy for tourism,” Upchurch said.
Both Upchurch and Walker said they envision a new Milwaukee Bucks arena drawing even more visitors to the area when it’s completed.
“Not only will you get traditional fans coming in for Marquette games and Milwaukee Bucks games, but for other attractions as well,” Walker said. “I think people will want to come and just see something new.”