FOX CITIES - New numbers out Monday show a big increase in visitor spending in the Fox Cities.
In 2013, nearly $411 million was spent in the area by tourists alone. Now, the hope is that growth will continue for years to come.
The increase in tourism spending can be attributed to a number of different things - most importantly, an improving economy.
"People are traveling again. Not only for leisure, but for sports, conventions.. it just really shows the economy is bouncing back in a good way, said Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau Marketing & Communications Director Mary Hirvela.
Leaders at the bureau say the Fox Cities is "Wisconsin's shopping place", boasting the Fox River Mall and a thriving downtown full of shops and restaurants.
"We also do very well in youth sports tournaments, and that continues to be a growing opportunity for us. We have wonderful facilities," said Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director Pam Seidl.
Now, the goal is even more growth for 2014.
"Our job is to market the Fox Cities outside the area and continue to bring tourism here and to showcase all the great things that there are to see and do here," said Hirvela.
Leaders say the proposed downtown expo center would also be a big boost for tourism in the Fox Cities. They're hoping it will be built soon to allow for more space for even larger conventions.