Traveler Spending Adds Up
BY BILL RUBIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
In May, the Wisconsin Department of Tourism released its annual estimate of traveler (tourist) spending for 2017. Spending is up locally, across the region, and for the state, providing evidence of worthwhile local attractions and healthy disposable incomes from which transactions are derived.
According to Tourism, 2017’s traveler spending in St. Croix County increased 4.11 percent to $110.6 million. From art fairs to bacon bashes and everything in between, curious travelers are willing to attend local events and spend some money before they depart for home or other destinations.
St. Croix is not known as a huge tourist hot spot. The $110 million spent in St. Croix is a far cry from the nearly $1.1 billion generated in Sauk County, home of the Dells, waterslides, and excursion boats shaped like ducks. St. Croix has its peppers (North Hudson), chili (Baldwin), and good neighbors (Roberts), etc. The 4.11 percent gain in St. Croix still tops Sauk’s 3.67 percent increase but not Chippewa County’s 10.55 percent increase. Indeed, the Leinenkugel brewery is a major draw.
Tourism spending is a multi-billion dollar industry in Wisconsin. Travelers generated an estimated $12.7 billion across the state in 2017, resulting in a respectable 3.17 percent increase from 2016. Another $19.9 billion in total business sales are attributable to tourism and travelers.
Tourism spending also creates job, even though many are seasonal and most could be described as low-paying. Tourism’s report revealed nearly 2,000 jobs in St. Croix are supported by traveler spending, an increase from 2016. Across the state, around 194,000 jobs are linked to travelers.
Tourist spending pays its share of taxes, reducing the burden to homeowners, businesses, and retirees. An estimated $13.9 million in state and local tax revenue in St. Croix County was attributable to travelers last year. Put all 72 counties together and almost $1.54 billion in local and state taxes was reaped. Cha-Ching.
Whether it’s a snow cone vender or pottery booth, if the person in line does not look familiar, there’s a good chance he or she came from out of town to enjoy a local festival.
Thanks travelers. Keep spending at local events.