Pam Seidel, executive director of the Fox Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau, says those numbers are the result of investments made in tourism infrastructure, including the Fox Cities Exhibition Center and the Community First Champion Center – Fox Cities.
“To see higher numbers when the exhibition center just opened and the Champion Center not yet open is very exciting,” she says. “I think it shows the overall strength of tourism in the Fox Cities.”
The organization shared the numbers Tuesday morning at the annual tourism breakfast. The Fox Cities numbers were gathered as part of the annual statewide economic impact study. In 2018, Fox Cities tourism spending directly supported 5,756 jobs in the tourism industry, with those employees earning $109 million in wages and benefits.
Dollars spent on recreational activities, as well as food and beverages, led visitor spending growth. Retail shopping rebounded, growing 5.1 percent in 2018. The research indicated each household in the Fox Cities would need to be taxed an additional $965 per year to replace the tourism taxes received by state and local governments.
Seidl says local tourism has a bright future.
“We have had two once-in-a-generation projects happen within a couple of years of each other. We are growing the Fox Cities economy through tourism,” she says. “The new sports center will be a catalyst for even further tourism spending growth as teams from throughout the region come for youth tournaments.”
The FCCVB also handed out its annual awards that honor people who’ve made a difference during the past year in promoting the area.
- Convention Award: Scott Springmier for his efforts in helping to bring the TAPPI 2018 Tissue Making Conference to Appleton.
- Sports Award: Dennis Smits for his efforts in bringing the 2018 USA Powerlifting High School National Championship to Appleton.
- Destination Builder Award: Jane Lang with the Neenah Historical Society for her efforts in bringing Neenah’s history alive for others.