Tourism spending down 43% in Dane County, the biggest drop in the state

A year of COVID-19 restrictions and a summer of social unrest has greatly impacted tourism spending in Dane County, according to 2020 economic data released from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. Compared to other areas of the state, Dane County saw the worst of decreases in spending, down nearly 43%, which was 50% more than the state average of tourism economic loss. In downtown Madison, spending fell from more than $300 million to just over $100 million, plunging more than 62% in 2020, more than double the state average. Downtown lodging was hit the hardest with a 78% drop in spending. Food and beverage fell 58% and retail fell 50%.

The county experienced a loss of 6,700 workers in the hospitality industry, more than 30% of the local hospitality workforce. In a typical year, Dane County contributes about 10% of tourism spending for the state. In 2020, the county contributed 15% of spending losses, leading all counties in the state.