LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) – The three largest industries in Wisconsin are manufacturing, agriculture and tourism, according to the Wisconsin Department of Tourism.
In 2012 alone, tourism contributed nearly $17 billion to the state economy; the amount up about 5 percent from 2011, a new Wisconsin tourism impact report shows.
La Crosse County has seen a significant tourism boost, too.
The rivers, the festivals and the sites all bring tourists into La Crosse County, said Dave Clements, executive director of the La Crosse Area Visitors Bureau.
"The whole mix of all the things that go on in our community (continues) to drive our hospitality industry," Clements said.
La Crosse County is ranked number 12 out of all the counties in Wisconsin when it comes to revenue earned through tourism, according to the Department of Tourism impact report.
Over the past year, the county has seen a 6 percent boost in visitor spending, alone. That means in 2012, visitors have spent $206 million dollars in La Crosse County, according the report.
This created thousands of jobs and spiked employment almost 3 percent from 2011 to 2012, Clements said.
"Certainly an economic impact allowing people to, you know, pay their bills, have a living, put food on the table, pay their utilities and live in a great place that we all like and appreciate," he said.
With tourism state-wide also seeing a spike, Gov. Scott Walker made his way to La Crosse Friday to announce that visitor spending on lodging, food, transportation and visitor services contributed $10.4 billion to the state economy.
Walker said it's because of the attractions Wisconsin has to offer.
"To compare us to an Iowa, Illinois, we're the only state in the union surrounded by the Mississippi and two great lakes, we're filled with 15,000 inland lakes; that's 5,000 more than Minnesota," Walker said.
Walker plans to spend about $500,000 over the next two years to promote tourism.
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