Travelers spent $119.6 million in Portage County communities in 2015

STEVENS POINT, Wis. (April 29, 2016) – Visitors spent $119.6 million in Portage County in 2015, the fourth year in a row that traveler expenditures topped $100 million in the county, according to figures released today by the Wisconsin Department of Tourism.

The $119.6 million in visitor spending was an increase of 3.74% from the amount visitors spent in Portage County in 2014. Ranked 23 out of all 72 counties in Wisconsin, Portage County has seen visitor spending increase by $21.7 million since 2011.

“The strong growth in tourism for Portage County tells us a lot about the success of our efforts promoting the region, from the leisure visitor and meeting planner to sports events and groups,” said Sara Brish, executive director of the Stevens Point Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It is wonderful to be able to build off of the success from previous years. 2016 is shaping up to be another strong year, including hosting the National Izaak Walton League Convention and Gus Macker, both new events in the region, later this year.” 

Brish said the increase in visitor spending locally can be attributed to several factors, including successful marketing campaigns, hosting numerous sports events and a strong meeting and convention market in 2015. It also demonstrates that people are learning about all of the great offerings we have here, and generating a positive impact for the communities throughout Portage County.

The sports and meeting market was strong in 2015, in addition to being the first Wisconsin location to host the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship. Demand for rooms increased average daily rate in the region’s hotels by more than 3% during 2015, based on Smith Travel Research data. 

The campaign ‘Celebrate the Arts’ was launched in spring 2013 to promote the numerous arts offerings in the Stevens Point Area—including visual arts, performing arts, culinary arts and the art of brewing— across multiple platforms. The 2015 campaign continued to generate local economic impact in the spring. Momentum continued with successful promotions like the ‘Central Wisconsin Craft Collective’ campaign last fall. The campaign promoted the Stevens Point Area’s craft breweries, wineries and distillery. The promotion featured a unique giveaway allowing one lucky winner to win a prize package which included lodging, dining and VIP tours and tastings at the breweries, winery and distillery. 

“The Stevens Point Area has a great wealth of tourism assets, which we highlight to help educate visitors and locals about the region,” Brish said. “The work that we do behind the scenes (from promoting the region to visitors throughout the Midwest to providing services to meeting planners, sports organizations and groups to make planning their events easier) often goes unnoticed, but it makes a positive impact in Portage County communities and directly supports our local businesses.“
The study, conducted by Tourism Economics, shows the impact of tourism on Wisconsin’s economy was $19.3 billion in 2015, an increase of 4.4 percent from the previous year. Statewide, traveler spending generated $1.5 billion in state and local revenue and $1.1 billion in federal taxes.

“These results let us know that what we have been doing over the last five years is working,” said Secretary Klett. “It’s a tremendous credit to the tourism industry in all 72 counties and the innovative work they do to create exciting vacation experiences, market their destinations under our united brand of fun, and provide great customer service that makes travelers want to return to Wisconsin time and again.”

In honor of National Travel & Tourism Week and the Stevens Point Area Convention & Visitors Bureau’s 30th Anniversary, the SPACVB will be hosting a #TourismIsSweet Tourism Takeover and a Visitor Center Open House. The Tourism Takeover will offer $0.30 ice cream for the first two hundred people at Belts’ Soft Serve and King Cone on Wednesday, May 4 at 6pm. The Open House will be held at 340 Division Street, Stevens Point on Friday, May 6 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. For more details, visit . 

The Stevens Point Area Convention and 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. The SPACVB provides visitors with local and state information, including travel guides, maps and brochures.

For more information about the Stevens Point Area, visit The SPACVB can also be found on Facebook (, Twitter (, Pinterest ( and Instagram (