MILWAUKEE — After a tough 2020, some Milwaukee-area businesses that rely on tourists say they are feeling much more optimistic about this upcoming summer.

It comes as many businesses say they have been seeing an uptick in customers traveling from nearby cities to Milwaukee. 

City Tours MKE struggled with cancellations last year, but says this spring things have already been much stronger. Brecken Miles co-owns the company and also helps to lead tours.

Miles says bookings have been up. 

“We have been having three to four bookings a week, some weekends completely sold out, all day long even our nighttime tours, really looking forward to summer as the population gets more vaccinated,” says Miles 

City Tours MKE says a significant number of visitors booking come from places like Chicago and other cities in Wisconsin. A similar phenomenon has been seen at the Milwaukee Public Market. At a time when many people may now be comfortable traveling, but not yet ready to fly, it can create a unique niche for the Brew City. 

“Regional tourism has seen a big spike, on weekends especially we have seen a lot of license plates that have Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, a lot of surrounding states,” says Paul Schwartz, the Milwaukee Public Market Executive Director.

Milwaukee Public Market officials say in response to the growth of regional travel they have been focusing their marketing efforts on nearby cities like Chicago, Madison and the Green Bay area. ​