STURGEON BAY - The state's multi-billion dollar tourism industry is growing.
That's the message from Governor Walker and state tourism officials.
They kicked off National Travel and Tourism week in Door County Friday.
More than 95 million people traveled to Wisconsin last year for fun and memories.
But for those who live in the state, it's about the jobs and money visitors contribute.
"In the past year, the economic impact of tourism in the state has grown by nearly five percent, and over the last two years it's about a 13 percent increase," said Governor Scott Walker during a tourism event at the Door County Maritime Museum.
State tourism officials say the industry had a total impact of $16.8 billion last year compared to $16 billion in 2011.
"Two years ago, it was $14.8 billion. So coming out of an economy that had slowed down, to have a two billion dollar growth in two years is phenomenal," said Wisconsin Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett.
Door County business owners say the state's investment in marketing campaigns across the Midwest appears to be working.
"Oh definitely. We have a big following that come from Chicago, Milwaukee, Minnesota, all over neighboring states," said Diane Rockwell, owner of Door County Traders in Sturgeon Bay.
Rockwell said the state's efforts combined with those by local tourism officials had an impact last year.
"Definitely up about 10 to 15 percent, and we just, we see the tourism growing," Rockwell said.
The Door County Visitor Bureau says the total impact of traveler spending in Door County last year was nearly $368 million. That's an increase of about $22 million from the total in 2011.
"We had well over 20% growth last year. So delighted with that," said Terry Ullman, owner of Door County Candy.
Ullman said the state's numbers aren't surprising at all based on what he saw in his cash register in 2012.
"We can't strictly attribute it to one thing or another because we've done a lot of improvements here, but we're happy to see the growth," Ullman said.
Local tourism officials said they expect to see continued growth this year, especially as they up their own marketing efforts with a new TV commercial.
"I see it this way: the state tees up the ball, that's their job, they go out and put that big message out for the state of Wisconsin. We in turn go out with our message right behind them and get people to come to Door County," said Jack Moneypenny with the Door County Visitor Bureau.
The state plans to launch a summer television and radio campaign later this month. It will run across the state, as well as in Northern Illinois, Minnesota's Twin Cities and eastern Iowa.
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