By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published May 05, 2017 at 9:00 AM

As VISIT Milwaukee prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary at its annual meeting Wednesday, May 10 at The Pfister Hotel, the organization released 2016 tourism numbers this morning.

Milwaukee welcomed 22.5 million visitors last year, and those folks spent $3 billion on lodging, dining, entertainment, shopping and more. That’s up 4 percent over the previous year.

Here are some numbers, gleaned from "The Economic Impact of Tourism in Wisconsin," which Travel Wisconsin commissions Tourism Economics to compile. The numbers were released by Travel Wisconsin in celebration of the 34th annual National Travel & Tourism Week, which runs May 7-14.

VISIT Milwaukee is the area’s convention and visitors bureau, with nearly 700 members, primarily hotels/motels, restaurants, attractions, services and other businesses.

The numbers will be shared by VISIT Milwaukee, as part of its annual report, at The Pfister event, which runs from 3 to 7 p.m.

  • Total economic impact of tourism in Milwaukee: $3.45 billion, up 4 percent over previous year
  • Total economic impact of tourism in the four-county Greater Milwaukee Area: $5.25 billion, up 4 percent
  • Full-time jobs generated by tourism in Milwaukee: 32,000, up 1.75 percent
  • Full-time jobs generated by tourism in GMA: 51,000, up 1.5 percent
  • Total labor income related to tourism in Milwaukee: $1.1 billion, up 2.6 percent
  • Total labor income related to tourism in GMA: $1.6 billion, up 3.6 percent
  • Tax receipts generated by tourism in Milwaukee: $231 million, up 3 percent
  • Tax receipts generated by tourism in GMA: $350 million, up 2 percent
  • Visitors to GMA spent $3 billion in 2016 at hotels, restaurants, attractions, events, retailers and businesses, up 4 percent
  • Milwaukee welcomes 22.5 million visitors each year
  • Milwaukee is Wisconsin’s largest tourism market, representing 20 percent of the state’s total tourism revenue

"We are extremely proud that our work at VISIT Milwaukee continues to have such a strong and meaningful impact on Milwaukee and the entire region," said Paul Upchurch, president and CEO of VISIT Milwaukee, in a news release.

"As we celebrate our 50th year in 2017, we are reminded more and more that the work that we and our partners do is important to the community. For five decades, VISIT Milwaukee has marketed our region as a top choice for business, convention and leisure travel, and these economic impact numbers show that we are succeeding in our mission."

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.