Kewaunee County shows second-largest growth of visitor spending in Wisconsin
KEWAUNEE – It could be that a lot more people found Kewaunee County as a great place to visit last year. For sure, at least, it was a great place to spend more of their getting-away money.
According to a report released last week by the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, direct visitor spending in Kewaunee County grew from 2016 to 2017 by 13.41 percent, the second-largest increase among the state's 72 counties.
The report said visitor spending in the county was $20.0 million in 2017, compared to $17.6 million the year before. Visitor spending also increased from 2015 to '16, but by just 1.04 percent.
Jennifer Schneider, Kewaunee County Tourism Coordinator/Public Information Officer, told the Star-News that it’s hard to track how many tourists came to the county, so it’s unclear how much that contributed to the increase. But she said in a press release that there appear to be two big reasons for the growth in spending.
"We hosted Wisconsin Farm Technology Days, which had an attendance of nearly 27,000 people in just three days,” Schneider said, “and the county implemented a half-percent sales tax with hope that visitors would help boost local revenue.”
While the report, conducted by Tourism Economics, showed that 64 of Wisconsin's 72 counties had increased direct visitor spending in 2017, just 12 of those grew than 5 percent, seven more than 10 percent. Florence County was only one to register a larger increase than Kewaunee County, at 16.79 percent (from $4.8 million to $5.7 million).
Kewaunee County also registered $35.9 million in total tourism-related business last year, an 8.63-percent rise from $33 million in 2016; 311 tourism-related jobs, up 11.2 percent from 280 the year before; $5.2 million in tourism-related labor income, a 7.7-percent growth from $4.6 million in '16; and $2.3 million in state and local taxes, a 12.07-percent increase from $2 million.
The report said the state saw increases of just over $390 million in direct visitor spending, to $12.7 billion, and $631 million in total tourism sales, to $20.6 billion,.Both figures are increases of about 3.2 percent.
“Kewaunee County is a place where you can vacation like a real Wisconsinite, while helping keep family-owned businesses like bakeries, cheese, meat and fish markets, coffee shops, restaurants, breweries, wineries, art galleries, antique stores, fishing charters, campgrounds, bed and breakfasts as well as motels in operation,” Schneider said. “This is a family vacation spot where Mom and Dad don’t have to worry about emptying their wallet, but can focus on fun, and we hope that word spreads.”
The good tourism news comes as the Promotion & Recreation Department is working on major improvements within its county parks system.
“The Zoological Society of Kewaunee County is developing a master plan for Bruemmer Park Zoo that includes potential new exhibit space, a nature center, new public restrooms, ADA accessible pathways and parking,” said department director Dave Myers
“Meanwhile, Winter Park, which broke an attendance record welcoming 11,073 visitors to the park this past season, is making room for the installation of a ski lift at the beginner’s hill.”
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Kewaunee County shows second-largest growth of visitor spending in Wisconsin