By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published May 04, 2018 at 10:30 AM

According to numbers released this morning by VISIT Milwaukee, the county experienced a boost in tourism that impacted jobs, income and business sales.

Visitors to Milwaukee – which is the state’s largest tourism market, drawing one-fifth of Wisconsin’s tourism impact – spent $2 billion, which is 3.1 percent above the previous year.

The numbers are estimates drawn from the annual study, "The Economic Impact of Tourism in Wisconsin," which the state commissions Tourism Economics to compile each May in celebration of National Travel and Tourism Week.

The report also estimated that total tourism-related business sales were estimated to be $3.5 billion, up 3.2 percent from 2016. Tourism in the area helped support 32,150 full-time jobs, accounting for labor income of $1.1 billion – increases of 1 and 1.5 percent, respectively.

Finally, tourism generated $237 million, up 2.5 percent, in state and local taxes.

"These numbers indicate continued strong growth for tourism in downtown Milwaukee and throughout the entire region," said VISIT Milwaukee President & CEO Paul Upchurch in a statement.

"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."

The numbers for the four-county Greater Milwaukee area are:

  • 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

"Tourism is vital to the health of our economy," Kristin Settle, director of communications for VISIT Milwaukee, told OnMilwaukee. "Business and leisure visitors bring in new dollars to the community, which supports local businesses, jobs, and fosters additional development in the entire region, boosting our quality of life.

"It’s no wonder why Milwaukee tourism continues to grow. With countless amenities, attractions, events, restaurants, and our stunning lakefront, we have a very high quality destination. Visitors are wowed by our friendliness, our vibrant neighborhoods, and the wonderfully random experiences they have when they travel here."

These numbers, along with the organization’s annual report, will be shared at VISIT Milwaukee’s annual meeting at the Wisconsin Center on Wednesday, May 14.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.