Anyone in downtown Hudson on a summer day knows the city sees its share of visitors, but the city didn't know just what impact tourism has on it - until now.
Tourism brought $48 million in visitor spending to Hudson in 2017, according to a study by Tourism Economics.
The company does annual studies for the state of Wisconsin on the economic impact of tourism in the state, and to individual counties. This is the first year the Hudson Chamber of Commerce and Tourism was able to see the 2017 numbers on Hudson specifically.
"I've been trying to get this for a long time," said Mary Weller, chamber tourism director.
Weller and Tourism Economics recognize that tourism isn't easy to define, as it encompasses more than a single industry.
The top sectors of tourism money in Hudson are dining, retail and lodging with $15.6 million spent on food and beverages, $12.4 million spent shopping and $8 million spent on lodging. Recreation also saw $6.6 million in visitor spending and transportation received $5.1 million in spending.
Beyond the money directly spent at businesses, the study also showed nearly $30 million in indirect and induced spending toward businesses that support the main businesses. Examples of these indirect and induced spending include food deliveries to restaurants or maintenance at hotels.
In total, with both direct and indirect spending, the city saw a total economic impact of $77.5 million from tourism.
"The impact of tourism and what it does for our community is huge," Weller said.
This visitor spending supported 884 jobs in 2017, with those workers earning more than $20 million in total income.
"It all impacts the local economy," Weller said.
Weller wasn't surprised by the results, but the study gives her a quantifiable impact. They show her that everything she and the chamber has done to promote Hudson is working. For years Weller has been marketing out of the area, where visitors are, to get people to come to Hudson every day, beyond events.
"What I do is promote Hudson year-round," Weller said.
While many travelers look for events, Weller said, many just want to experience the area.
"Who we are as we are is obviously a selling factor," she said.
She works with the Department of Tourism, advertises in the Twin Cities and has hosted Discover Wisconsin in town a couple times.
"All those things impact these statistics that you see and it's why we do them," she said. "If we didn't, you can't rely on people just hoping they find us."
These numbers will inform the chamber in future marketing and promotion of Hudson. Though it can't show them specifically which ads work where, Weller said she knows what the chamber is doing now is reaching people.
All the marketing would be for nothing though, Weller said, if it wasn't for the people and businesses in Hudson. Weller said the marketing helps to get them here for the first time.
"The experience," Weller said, "gets them back."