Your Town Stevens Point: Economic impact from tourism increased by 21% from 2020 to 2021
STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW) - According to new figures released by the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, visitors spent more than $118 million in Portage County last year. The money is part of more than $20 billion worth of economic impact directly tied to tourism in Wisconsin.
Portage County is ranked 24 out of the 72 counties in Wisconsin for tourism and visitor spending. Visitors spent $118.5 million last year, compared to the $97.9 spent in 2020.
The executive director of the Stevens Point Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, Sara Brish, credits the growth of new projects and developments that have taken place over the last year for the 21% increase. Some of those projects and developments around Stevens Point include the grand opening of the trailhead at the Schmeeckle Reserve, construction on the Opera House in downtown, and additional sculptures installed at Cultural Commons.
“We pride ourselves on having an abundance of outdoor recreation, great arts, and entertainment. Our meetings and conference facilities are top-notch here, we’ve got great golf. Obviously, the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point brings in a lot of visitors as well. But then a nod to our youth and amateur sports organizations who do a tremendous job bringing in sports tournaments throughout the course of the year,” Brish said.
Other projects around the county include the Sentry Curling Center, a $3 million project in Plover, Artist & Fare in Plover opened its doors to a handful of businesses repurposing 91,000-square feet of the former Plover Shopko building, the construction began on phase 2 for the Lake Pacawa Project that’s scheduled to be complete by July 2022.
She also explained that the reasons why people visit Stevens Point aren’t only directed towards visitors.
“While travel creates fun and lasting memories for visitors, it also fosters a vibrant community. So a lot of things that our visitors really, really enjoy, our arts and culture our great outdoor recreation, those are things that add to the quality of life here for our own residents. And it’s a great opportunity for the community to harness all that we have.”
While there was an increase in economic growth, Portage County and Wisconsin as a whole, have not surpassed the record-setting year it saw in 2019, with over $22 billion dollars spent by visitors. Of the $22 billion spent across the state, $140 million was spent by visitors in Portage County in 2019.
Despite the decrease during the pandemic, Brish said she is hopeful that the trend can continue into 2022 since the growth in visitor spending has been increasing incrementally since 2012.
“We’re really excited again for a tremendous 2022 summer season. As we look at our group calendar, we have everything in place that would provide a very successful summer for our tourism and hospitality-related businesses. We’re seeing an uptick in the number of sports events, meetings and conferences that are coming back. And like always, people are flocking to the region to enjoy our outdoor rec, things like our Green Circle Trail, and wonderful golf. You know, all of the community parks that we have and reasons why people love coming here.”
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