Cancelled events in Milwaukee represent more than $45 million loss in economic impact

NOW: Cancelled events in Milwaukee represent more than $45 million loss in economic impact

MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) - The tourism industry in larger cities like Milwaukee is being hit especially hard during the COVID-19 pandemic, losing millions in economic impact.  

Visit Milwaukee says the week of April 4th the country suffered an $18.6 billion loss in travel year over year. Wisconsin is feeling it too, losing hundreds of millions in a month’s time.

“Wisconsin saw a loss of $631 million dollars in travel spending from March 9th through April 4th,” said Peggy Williams-Smith, President and CEO of Visit Milwaukee.

As for Milwaukee, Williams-Smith says a 28-day hotel research report shows occupancy was less than 25%, which is a nearly 70% decline compared to last year.

Visit Milwaukee booked 34 events scheduled to take place at Wisconsin Center and partner hotels that are now cancelled, 16 events also now postponed.

”These events represent a combined estimated loss in economic impact of over $47 million,” adds Williams-Smith.

Even with tremendous loss, Williams-Smith says Milwaukee is set for a strong end to the tourism year. With big events like State Fair, Summerfest, and the Democratic National Convention still happening.

“It was the year of Milwaukee with everything that was slated to happen, thankfully some of those events have postponed and are still looking to happen,” she says.

Williams-Smith says planning for the DNC in August is full steam ahead. Doctors say Milwaukee is showing signs of progress from social distancing, but it begs the question, will big gatherings ever get back to normal?

”It’ll look a little different than we originally anticipated,” said Williams-Smith. “A little smaller and it’ll all depend on where we are in the social distancing.”

”The large gatherings are really going to depend on if we have an effective vaccine or we can extinguish this virus one way or another and then have people have their confidence restored that it’s okay to gather in large groups,” said Dr. John Raymond, president and CEO of the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Dr. John Raymond says face coverings may still need to be worn in the fall.

”I think we’re going to be wearing face coverings in public for quite a long time,” adds Dr. Raymond.  

Even with lots of unknowns, Williams- Smith says travelers are ready to get out of the house. A study shows 70% of American travelers this week are planning trips in the next 6 months, showing a 5% increase from last week.

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