/ Articles / Visitor spending in Wisconsin’s Northwoods tops $647 million in 2019

Visitor spending in Wisconsin’s Northwoods tops $647 million in 2019

Spending up nearly $16 million over 2018

May 12, 2020

Visitor spending in seven key Northwoods counties topped $647 million last year, according to figures released by the Wisconsin Department of Tourism as part of National Travel and Tourism Week.

Visitors to Forest, Iron, Langlade, Lincoln, Oneida, Price and Vilas counties brought in $647.7 million in 2019, an increase of 2.51% over 2018. That adds up to an additional $15.9 million for the popular vacation counties known as The Northwoods of Wisconsin.

“These numbers show how absolutely essential tourism is to the northern part of the state,” said Krystal Westfahl, executive director of the Let’s Minocqua Visitors Bureau + Chamber of Commerce and Chair of The Northwoods of Wisconsin consortium. “It keeps our communities strong and our businesses healthy. Right now, we’re getting a glimpse now of what life could look like in the Northwoods without tourism. It’s absolutely devastating for some of the people who live and work here. We need everyone’s support, from the state level, down to each loyal visitor, to protect and revitalize this area when it’s safe to travel again.”

More than 6,000 jobs in the seven Northwoods of Wisconsin counties rely on tourism — jobs that pay for gas at the corner station, music lessons with the piano teacher down the street, or rent on a downtown storefront; jobs that return money directly into the heart of the Northwoods’ communities.   

The seven counties also collected $64.2 million in state and local taxes in 2019, taxes that would otherwise have been put squarely on the shoulders of area residents.

“The money that residents save goes back into our communities. It’s what makes it possible for us to keep living and working and thriving here,” Westfahl said.

The Northwoods of Wisconsin group recently launched a new campaign to show support for their part of the state as travelers continue to navigate life during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The campaign includes a new “We Love the Northwoods” icon that will be branded on social media posts, e-newsletters and websites from the partnering communities as a visible reflection of community pride. They’ve also launched a Facebook profile photo frame that allows users the chance to show their pride as well, along with a hashtag campaign, #WeLovetheNorthwoods, where travelers can share their photos on social media for other up north aficionados to enjoy together.

The group also created WeLovetheNorthwoods.com, a hub site for towns to share community news, and recently applied for a state joint effort marketing (JEM) to help provide key advertising dollars to bring visitors to the area once non-essential travel is allowed again.

For more information, visit The Northwoods of Wisconsin on Facebook.

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