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Door County Tourism Industry Shows Resilience in 2020

Visitor Spending Topped $300 Million Last Year

Media contact: Jon Jarosh, Destination Door County,

National Travel Tourism Week 2021 logo.In a year many will consider one of the most challenging ever for the travel industry, tourism spending in Door County remained steadfast, totaling $304.2 million last year, according to a new economic impact report from Tourism Economics, a global research firm.

The tourism economic impact study, commissioned by Destination Door County as part of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism’s annual economic impact research project, showed that despite widespread statewide and national economic challenges due to the pandemic and associated limitations, Door County’s tourism offerings matched what visitors who did travel were looking for in 2020. And while totals were down compared to the record-breaking year of 2019, they reflect how vitally significant tourism is to the area’s economy in supporting local businesses, jobs for residents and revenue to local governments.

Direct visitor spending of $304.2 million in Door County last year supported a total of $397 million in total business sales when indirect and induced impacts are considered. Visitor activity also supported a total of 2,743 jobs, which earned local job holders $80.4 million in wages.

Door County visitor spending, visitor supported jobs, and associated business sales generated $32.5 million in state and local government tax revenues last year as well. This represents a significant contribution to help fund local and state government programs and public infrastructure projects, while reducing the tax burden on county residents.

Among key tourism business categories, lodging represented the largest share of visitor spending in Door County last year at 44%. Food and beverage had a 22% share of visitor spending, retail had an 18.2% share, recreation/entertainment was 10.2% and transportation was 5.7%.

Tourism Economics officials said it was noteworthy that lodging performed as well as it did. As the largest category both by dollars and by share of the visitor dollar, lodging revenue helped mitigate overall spending losses in 2020. Door County was able to take advantage of changes in traveler behavior as a leisure and private home destination. This helped support the lower lodging decline, especially compared with urban areas of Wisconsin. Additionally, the average daily rate (ADR) lodging providers charged per room increased in Door County last year by 12.5%. Comparatively, ADR fell 17% statewide.

Door County’s share of statewide visitor spending grew in 2020. The $304.2 million in visitor spending represented 3.1% of all visitor spending in Wisconsin, putting it 7th among the state’s 72 counties last year with Milwaukee County topping the list followed by Sauk, Dane, Waukesha, Brown and Walworth counties.

With the 2021 season on Door County’s doorstep, early indicators have tourism officials very optimistic about a strong bounce back from last year. Pandemic losses can be considered very reachable gains as more normal visitor activity continues to rebound. A recent travel poll by Longwoods International showed that 87% of travelers nationwide have plans to travel in the next six months. Many local lodging providers are seeing an increase in advanced reservations and visitor demand for outdoor recreation opportunities and non-urban leisure destinations continues to remain strong.  Inquiries on are up significantly through the first 4-months of 2021, and lodging demand has shown positive signs through the first quarter of the year as well. With that, Door County should continue to be a top choice for travelers eager to resume hitting the road.


View the full report: Economic Impact of Tourism in Door County 2020, by Tourism Economics

View the fact sheet: 2020 Door County Tourism Economic Impact Fact Sheet