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Secretary Klett says tourism has huge economic impact

Wisconsin's First Lady Tonette Walker and Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett
Wisconsin's First Lady Tonette Walker and Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett

UNDATED (WXPR) -- The state's Tourism Secretary says 2013 showed strong growth by travelers in Wisconsin, and especially the Northwoods.

This week is national Travel and Tourism week. Stephanie Klett says tourism had a 17 billion dollar impact on the state's economy last year up $700 million from the year before. More than 100 million visits from travelers. She says increasing the tourism marketing budget has paid off big dividends. "Every dollar you give us to market the state of Wisconsin, we'll get you $6 back. The old saying,'it takes money to make money', that's exactly what we're proving."

Klett says more attention to the Northwoods has resulted in growth.  "Because I'm a Northwoods gal and was based out of St. Germain and Eagle River with Discover Wisconsin TV, when (she took over as Secretary) I noticed that the Northwoods was often times valued but overlooked in our marketing and the programs that we do."

Vilas County continues to be the top county for visitor spending in northern Wisconsin. Visitors spent $203.1 million last year, up nearly 4 percent from 2012. Tourism spending also accounted for 1,948 jobs in 2013.

She uses Oneida County as another example.  "Oneida county, (the) total business sales, you were up 5.7 percent from 2012­13. You went from $246 million to $260 million and out of 72 counties, that ranks number 15."

She says that's remarkable for the size of the population there compared to Milwaukee and Madison.

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