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2017 Wisconsin Department of Tourism Economic Impact Data

May 7, 2018
Written by Charlene Meier

By: Paul Ehrfurth, Executive Director, Oconto County Economic Development Corporation

Each year, the Wisconsin Department of Tourism releases data on the impact of tourism for each of the 72 counties in Wisconsin.  The data has now been released.  I am very happy to inform you that Oconto County placed very well in relation to the State and our region.  For the context of this discussion, I have defined the region as our contiguous counties with the exception of Brown and Door.  I have also included the northern counties that are part of the Grow North region, since we are all rural in nature.

The data is presented in five categories: Direct Visitor Spending, Total Business Sales, which does include Direct Visitor Spending, Tourism Employment, Total Labor Income, and State and Local Taxes.  Oconto County absolute numbers by metric are as follows:

Direct Visitor Spending                 87.1 Million

Total Business Sales                      122.2 Million

Employment                                     903   Jobs

Total Labor Income                         16.5 Million

State and Local Taxes                     22.4 Million


Annual Direct Visitor Spending has increased by 17 MILLION DOLLARS since 2011. It also helps to look at where we stand in relation to the other counties in the State.  Again, there are 72 counties in Wisconsin.  The following table lists the number of counties that ranked LOWER than Oconto County based upon the percentage change from 2016 to 2017.  Note that Oconto County exceeded the average for the entire State in all but one category, that being Total Labor Income.  Historically, we struggle with this metric due to our lower wages.


Category          # of Counties Lower than Oconto County

Direct Visitor Spending                                 48

Total Business Sales                                       46

Employment                                                      51

Total Labor Income                                         20

State and Local Taxes                                     44


Finally, we out ranked many of our regional competitors in most metrics. We topped Marinette County in all five metrics and Shawano in all metrics except Employment and State and Local Taxes.

In conclusion, I would reiterate that we had a very good year in terms of tourism, as we ranked in the upper quadrant in all but one measure, and as I stated above, wages are an issue we always struggle with. I would be more than happy with these numbers again next year.  This success is directly attributable to all who work so hard to make us a tourism destination.  THANK YOU.

For more information contact: Paul Ehrfurth, Executive Director, Oconto County Economic Development Corporation

Email:  Phone: 920-834-7129