Tourism economy grew by 8 percent in 2011; Marketing efforts pay off with 6:1 ROI

MADISON, Wis. (May 4, 2012) – It’s all about fun – that’s the No. 1 travel motivator for leisure travel visits. Based on the just-released 2011 tourism economic impact numbers, more people are having fun on vacation in Wisconsin than ever before.  That’s the message being delivered by Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett and Deputy Dave Fantle at events throughout the state celebrating this year’s National Travel and Tourism Week, May 5-13. 

Tourism Economy Grew by 8 Percent

The tourism economy in Wisconsin picked up steam in 2011 with an impact on the state of $16 billion, an increase of 8 percent from $14.8 billion in 2010 according to research conducted by Tourism Economics.  Over 95 million people visited the state, up two years in a row.  Tourism also supported 181,000 jobs and $4.4 billion in personal income.  Fully one in 13 jobs in Wisconsin rely on tourism.  Lodging sales increased 18 percent from the lows of 2009 at the height of the recession. Visitors generated $1.3 billion in state and local revenue and $950 million in federal taxes in 2011, saving Wisconsin taxpayers nearly $565 per household.  For further information on economic impact research, contact the Department of Tourism at pr@TravelWisconsin.com.

“2011 was a banner year for the travel and hospitality industry in Wisconsin,” said Governor Walker. “Tourism is a core strength of the state’s economy and the research shows that tourism marketing and our platform of fun has been an effective investment for Wisconsin in attracting new visitors and enhancing the image of the state.”

Campaign Success

Last year’s “Picture the Fun” campaign motivated more than 2.1 million visits in the summer and fall, generating an additional $257 million in tourism spending and $22 million in tax revenue according to Longwoods International, a tourism consulting firm that conducted the study for the Department of Tourism.  For every $1 the Department spent on the $3.5 million advertising campaign, $6 was returned to state and local governments in incremental tax revenue. The Department received a nearly 20 percent increase in appropriation for fiscal years 2011-12 that was recommended by Governor Walker and received bipartisan support in the legislature.  That increase came at a critical juncture as the tourism economy was showing signs of rebounding from a prolonged recession.

“Additional marketing dollars helped Wisconsin tourism get back in the advertising game so we could compete for tourism dollars with our Upper Midwest competitors,” said Secretary Klett. “We also found that partnering with celebrities Henry Winkler, Tony Shalhoub and David Zucker, who have Wisconsin ties, helped leverage our message, boost the exposure of our ads and increased our earned media.” 

Secretary Klett went on to say, "Our summer campaign will feature three TV spots, two newly produced for this summer, that tell a variety of 'fun' experiences that visitors can enjoy in Wisconsin."

Developed by Laughlin Constable, the summer campaign launches the week of May 21 and will run in markets across Wisconsin, northern Illinois, the Twin Cities, and TV spots for the first time in eastern Iowa. The campaign features new TV spots, radio, public relations, social media executions as well as out-of-home advertising. Local area musicians wrote original scores for the TV spots.

Additionally,  a social media giveaway that features a fishing getaway with John Gillespie to be filmed as an episode of “Waters & Woods” will launch in June. The Travel Wisconsin Facebook page includes the “Summer Playlist,” also featured on TravelWisconsin.com, which is a weekly updated interactive event lineup throughout the summer.  Digital high-resolution files of the campaign assets are available for download

Tourism Economics is an Oxford Economics company that provides analyses of the tourism sector.  Longwoods International is a globally recognized leader in travel research, with over 30 years of experience with a hospitality client list that includes Michigan, Ohio, Philadelphia and Canada. 

The mission of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism is to market the state as the Midwest’s premier travel destination by executing industry-leading marketing programs and establishing strategic partnerships. The Department plays a significant role in generating greater economic impact and jobs for Wisconsin. The portal for traveler information can be found at: www.travelwisconsin.com.