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STEVENS POINT, Wis. (June 8, 2022) -- Visitors spent $118.5 million in Portage County in 2021, according to figures released today by the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. These dollars are part of a $20.9 billion total economic impact, directly tied to tourism in Wisconsin.
In 2021, Portage County tourism generated $118.5 million in direct visitor spending, an increase of 21 percent from 2020, and more than $217 million in total economic impact. Ranked 24 out of all 72 counties in the state, Portage County has seen growth in visitor spending incrementally since 2012. Dollars brought to the community through tourism are an important part of the economy, supporting local businesses and supporting jobs.
“Tourism is an important part of the local economy,” said Sara Brish, executive director of the Stevens Point Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. “While travel creates fun and lasting memories for visitors, it also fosters vibrant communities, driving innovation, facilitating recovery, and powering the economy.”
2021 saw many developments and openings. Notably, the Sentry Curling Center, a $3 million project in Plover opened, offering 4 sheets of ice for play which hosted the National Curling Championship this year. Artist & Fare in Plover opened their doors to a handful of businesses repurposing 91,000 square feet of the former Plover Shopko building, and the construction began on phase 2 for the Lake Pacawa Project - slated to be complete by July 2022. The Inn at SentryWorld neared completion, a boutique hotel at the state’s first destination golf course.
Last year also welcomed the grand opening for the Green Circle Trailhead project at the Schmeeckle Reserve, construction at the Opera House in downtown Stevens Point, celebrating 50 years of the American Suzuki Institute at UWSP - the first of its kind outside of Japan, additional sculptures installed at Cultural Commons, and new mountain biking trails completed at Standing Rocks County Park.
Statewide, economic impact increased 21 percent in 2021, with all 72 counties reporting double-digit growth over 2020. Additionally, tourism supported more than 169,700 full and part-time jobs statewide across diverse sectors of the industry, up 7 percent over 2020. Wisconsin also hosted over 102.3 million visitor trips in 2021, up 12 percent from 2020.
“Wisconsin’s tourism recovery is something to be proud of. These successes are the result of intentional and strategic action by everyone who makes up our industry,” said Wisconsin Department of Tourism Secretary-designee, Anne Sayers. “I feel so fortunate to work alongside all of our hospitality partners every day who provide travelers with incredible opportunities to make memories while driving economic impact.”
Visitors generated $1.4 billion in state and local taxes because of tourism spending. Without this tax revenue, each Wisconsin household would need to pay $580 to maintain the current level of government services generated by tourism. For more data, including individual county figures and year-over-year growth, visit industry.travelwisconsin.com.
In Portage County, and Wisconsin as a whole, tourism continues to recover. While 2021 brought an increase, it has not surpassed Wisconsin tourism’s record-setting year of 2019, which saw $22.2 billion in total economic impact.
“Looking forward, we are closely watching key indicators that indicate growth year-over-year,” said Brish. “We are hopeful to close the gap between 2019 tourism expenditures in 2022.”
The Stevens Point Area Convention & Visitors Bureau is an economic and community development organization whose purpose is to expand Portage County’s economy by attracting conventions, sporting events, and leisure tourists to Portage County. Millions of dollars from visitor spending and increased tax revenues are generated to increase commerce, sustain jobs, and create a desirable destination.
For more information about the Stevens Point Area, visit StevensPointArea.com The SPACVB can also be found on Facebook (facebook.com/StevensPointArea), Instagram (instagram.com/stevenspointarea), and Pinterest (pinterest.com/StevensPtArea).