VISIT Milwaukee hopeful for summer tourism boost following 2020

NOW: VISIT Milwaukee hopeful for summer tourism boost following 2020

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – As more events and festivals return to the Milwaukee area this summer, leaders hope that also means more tourists after a devastating year for the industry.

“It was always expected that leisure travel would come back first and that’s definitely what we are seeing,” VISIT Milwaukee director of communications Claire Koenig said. “We are also starting to see hotel occupancy creep back up. Last week, in fact, the downtown hotels had about a 77 percent occupancy rate, which is fabulous, that is much closer to a normal level for this time of year.”

Koenig said over the last eight to ten years tourism was growing in Milwaukee, meaning more money staying in the community.

In 2020, it went down dramatically, with a 37 percent decrease in visitor spending.

“That obviously devastated our local industry,” she said.

Now, leisure travel is predicted to be back to normal levels in 2022.

“I think it’s going to feel a bit more of a dial than a switch,” Wisconsin Department of Tourism Acting Secretary Anne Sayers said. “New national research has just come out this week that puts traveler sentiment at 89 percent, meaning that 89 percent of American travelers plan to travel in the next six months, that’s a new peak coming out of the pandemic.”

VISIT Milwaukee points out local businesses will still need support until steady tourism numbers return.

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