Tourism is a big business in Dane County, generating more than $1 billion for the local economy and supporting jobs in the past year.
Diane Morgenthaler of the Greater Madison Convention and Visitors Bureau talked to the Waunakee Rotary Club about tourism’s role in the regional economy at the July 20 meeting.
Waunakee is a partner in the Greater Madison Convention and Visitors Bureau, she said.
A recent study done revealed that in 2016, the 16 million visitors to Dane County resulted in $1.2 billion in direct spending at restaurants and stores. At least 21,600 jobs are supported by tourism, Diane said.
Tourism also generates $155 million per year in taxes, saving individual households about $720 that they would have to pay in taxes otherwise.
Most tourism spending is on retail items and at restaurants, so it’s supporting the amenities we enjoy. Diane said.
The convention and visitors bureau works to attract new concerts and events to Dane County while supporting the ongoing events, Diane said.
Tourism is a competitive industry, and the bureau is always on the lookout for events that fit the area. They can be in education, agriculture, biotechnology or sciences. Dane County competes with other Wisconsin cities, along with Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Portland, Oregon, and other cities.
In 2017, Madison hosted a number of conventions for organizations like the Wisconsin Music Education Association and the U.S. Trampoline and Tumbling. A new one that Diane is excited about is the Reebok CrossFit games from Aug. 1-6. That event alone should bring 35,000 attendees and generate $7.2 million in spending, she said.
“The Downtown [Madison] area should see life-size images of CrossFit Athletes,” Diane said.
The Alliant Energy Center will get 80 hours of national television coverage, Diane added.
Other large conventions are the World Dairy Expo. Diane said the bureau also works to support Epic Systems, booking hotels for all of its guests at its member meetings.
The bureau also publishes a visitors guides, has a strong online presence, and uses social media to promote events and engage its partners.
Diane noted that tourism is always changing, particularly with startups like Uber, Air BnB, and HomeAway. With new technology, visitors are able to tell a region’s story.
To illustrate tourism’s effect on the economy, Diane showed an illustration. The first step is to build a place people want to visit. Afterwards people will want to live there, and that will encourage job creation and housing growth.
That’s the connection between tourism and economic development, Diane said. 
Other News:
–The club’s foundation committee and executive board met last week and agreed to donate $35,000 toward the new library building. This year, $25,000 will be allocated toward the project, with $5,000 coming over the next two years.
-A WaunaFest sign-up was circulated. Help is needed Saturday night and from noon-3 p.m. Sunday.
–A new member orientation will be held after the July 27 meeting.
–The club inducted Breck Dokken as a member. Welcome, Breck!
Guests: Liz Deihs, guest of Allison Feldbruegge; Sam Haessly, guest of Scott Biba.  
Visiting Rotarians: None.  
Birthdays: July 28, Bob Arntz; July 29, Jim Pingel.
Anniversaries: None.
Greeters: July 27, Bill Erickson and Dan Evans;  Aug. 3, Allison Feldbruegge and Greg Garton; Aug. 10. Randy Guttenberg and Rich Harris; Aug. 17, Travis Heiser and Randy Herbrand.