Eugene makes sense, I guess. But Milwaukee? Really?

Yes, the town known mostly for beer, brats and most of all frigid winter weather heads the Airbnb list of its Top 20 trending travel destinations for 2020.

Eugene, ranked No. 7 on the list, and No. 12 Cape Canaveral on the east coast of Florida, were the other American cities to make the cut. The list is mostly made up of international destinations like Bilbao, Spain at No. 2; Luxembourg at No. 8; Tokyo at No. 17; and Maastricht, Netherlands at No. 20.

There are also a few head-scratchers like Guadalajara, Mexico; Kerala, India; and perhaps most of all Cali, Columbia (Ok the city of 2.3 million is well-known for salsa dancing, but even more so for its high crime rate).

And then there is Milwaukee.

Yes the city features terrific breweries, great German food, the Harley-Davidson Museum and the popular European Village. There are sports teams like the Brewers and Bucks, and I suppose you could count the nearby Packers.

But none of those are the reason the San Francisco-based Airbnb ranked Milwaukee as No. 1 on its list of top 20 trending travel destinations for next year, with a 729% year-over-year increase in Milwaukee bookings for 2020. (The rankings are based on Airbnb data for bookings made for 2020 as of this October, versus bookings made for 2019 as of October 2018.)

The spike is due in large part to two big events coming to town next year: The Democratic National Convention and golf’s Ryder Cup.

Last month Airbnb said it had already logged more than 400 reservations during the days of the DNC, scheduled for July 13-16. The convention is expected to bring in more than 50,000 visitors to the area and generate $200 million in economic impact.

The Ryder Cup, another big tourism prize for the region, is scheduled for Sept. 22-27. Ryder Cup officials have said they expect the event to bring in $135 million to the region, and be viewed by 500 million households worldwide.

Cape Canaveral also has a major event scheduled, the 2020 Mars Exploration Program launch, to help boost its tourism numbers and account for a 136% increase year over year.

And while Eugene has plenty to offer for visitors — Airbnb mentions its natural beauty, multinational businesses and organic food industry — it too has a major event helping drive up the visitor numbers in 2020.

That would be the U.S. Olympic Team Track and Field Trials, scheduled for June 19-28, 2020, at the newly renovated Hayward Field.

“Whether travelers are drawn to Eugene to enjoy its natural beauty and vibrant culinary scene or to join the passionate crowds at a variety of sporting events, Airbnb hosts are providing a local, authentic way to stay,” Airbnb spokesperson Laura Spanjian said in a press release. “At the same time, Airbnb helps Eugene families earn meaningful extra income, while providing an economic boost to neighborhoods that haven’t typically benefitted from visitor spending.”

Kari Westlund, President & CEO of Travel Lane County, called the Airbnb ranking “exciting, and not surprising.”

“The community is energized by numerous developments and none is bigger than the new Hayward Field,” Westlund said in a press release. “In summer 2020 we will welcome thousands of track & field fans and knowing Airbnb is positioned to supplement our lodging sector during special events is extremely helpful. Using the Airbnb platform, for special event rentals of rooms or residential homes, is a great way to build in protections and ensure a good experience.”

Scott Carroll can be reached at or 541-957-4204. Or follow him on Twitter @scottcarroll15.

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