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Tourism has quarter-billion impact in Greater St. Croix Valley

Spending by people visiting Pierce, St. Croix. Polk and Dunn counties exceeded $250 million last year. Graphic courtesy of St. Croix EDC.

Spending by visitors to St. Croix County increased 8.48 percent to $87.85 million in 2013, according to an annual analysis released Friday by the Wisconsin Department of Tourism and a press release issued by the St. Croix Economic Development Corp.

St. Croix, Polk, Pierce, and Dunn counties comprise the Greater St. Croix Valley. Visitor spending in 2013 for the four-county region was estimated at $231.65 million compared to $221.8 million in 2012 (a 4.45 percent increase).

The $87.85 million from St. Croix travelers resulted in total business sales of $148.66 million in the county, reflecting a 6.59 percent increase from 2012. This spending supported an estimated 1,688 jobs (up 3.49 percent from 2012) in St. Croix and generated $11.25 million in state and local tax revenues (up 6.72 percent from 2012).

Statewide, travelers spent an estimated $10.84 billion in 2013, a 4.33 percent increase from 2011.

Total business sales from tourists were estimated at $17.52 billion (up 4.34 percent from 2012). Tourism and traveler-supported employment in Wisconsin in 2013 was estimated at 185,495 jobs (up 0.93 percent from 2012). Tourism provided the state with tax revenues of $1.349 billion in 2013 (up 2.83 percent increase from 2012).

Visitor and traveler spending in Polk for 2013 increased to $76.42 million (up 4.21 percent from 2012). Spending in Dunn County increased 3.98 percent to $42.66 million. Pierce County had a 6.68 percent decline to $24.7 million, after a 13.43 percent increase from 2011 to 2012.

Because of the Greater St. Croix Valley’s proximity to the 13-county Twin Cities metro area, many visitors enjoy day trips to the Valley and return to their homes without incurring expenses on lodging. Overnight stays would increase traveler spending in the Great St. Croix Valley.

Total business sales from travelers and visitors to the Greater St. Croix Valley in 2013 was estimated at $381.52 million compared to $366.2 million in 2012. Business sales in St. Croix were estimated at $148.44 million (up 6.59 percent from 2012), followed by $113.96 million in Polk (up 4.09 percent from 2012), $73.59 million in Dunn (up 4.22 percent increase from 2012), and $45.53 million in Pierce (down 2.25 percent from 2012).

Tourism-related employment in the Greater St. Croix Valley for 2013 was estimated at 3,978 jobs (up 2.5 percent increase from 2012). In addition to the estimated 1,688 jobs in St. Croix, there were 1,045 in Polk (up 3.0 percent from 2012); 836 in Dunn (0.4 percent increase); and 409 in Pierce (up 1.95 percent).

Milwaukee is the state’s top county for visitor spending estimated at $1.69 billion. The other counties in the Top 10 include Dane ($1.04 billion in visitor spending); Sauk ($888 million); Waukesha ($631 million); Brown ($557 million); Walworth ($477 million); Door ($299 million); Outagamie ($300 million); Marathon ($228 million); and Winnebago ($219 million).

Tourism is one of Wisconsin’s top three industries along with manufacturing and agriculture.

For more information, visit and select “Wisconsin Tourism Industry Continues Growth in 2013”.

Steve Dzubay

Steve Dzubay has been publisher at the River Falls Journal and Hudson Star Observer from 1995-2016. He holds a bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. He previously worked as a reporter-photographer at small daily newspapers in Minnesota and is past editor of the Pierce County Herald and River Falls Journal.