Economic impact of travel, visitor volume to Illinois rises in 2010

• Illinois tourism generates $29.3 billion for economy; visitors to state increase by 5 percent

Staff Report

Officials from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) have joined tourism industry leaders to highlight the gains made by Illinois tourism over the last year.

Illinois’ tourism industry generated $29.3 billion in revenue in 2010, an increase of more than $2.2 billion, as visitor spending continued to provide a strong economic impact to the state, supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs.

“In spite of national economic challenges, the state of Illinois continues to draw visitors both domestically and internationally,” said DCEO Director Warren Ribley. “Both economic impact of tourism and visitor volume increased for our state, while the travel industry created hundreds of thousands of jobs for the hard-working people of Illinois. Tourism continues to play a critical role in our state’s economic recovery, and we’re committed to doing all we can to keep Illinois’ visitor industry strong.”

According to the U.S. Travel Association, domestic travel spending nationwide increased to $27.2 billion, up 8.4 percent from 2009.

Spending on international travel rose to more than $2 billion, a 5.7 percent increase from 2009. That, local travel professionals say, has been a welcomed luxury given the state of the national economy.

“People are traveling and seeing the world,” John Sturm, president of Lindstrom Travel, said. “They had to give it up a couple of years ago; but we have seen an increase.”

In Illinois, the economic impact of tourism has grown by more than $3 billion during the past five years. Additionally, the travel industry generated 287,500 jobs in Illinois in 2010, directly and indirectly supporting one in 10 jobs in the state. On average, visitors spend nearly $80 million with Illinois businesses every day.

State and local tax revenues from tourism totaled more than $2 billion in 2010, an increase of $93.5 million. Illinois saw a 5 percent increase in state taxes and a 4.4 percent increase in local tax revenues. The total tourism tax revenue (federal, state and local) saves the average Illinois household more than $1,000 in taxes each year. Illinois collected $184.5 million in hotel/motel taxes in 2010, an increase of 8.12 percent from 2009.

Illinois hosted nearly 84.7 million visitors in 2010, according to D.K. Shifflet & Associates. This is up 5 percent from 2009. Both business and leisure travel saw increases in visitor volume, with leisure travel up 6 percent and business travel up 2.5 percent.

Overnight leisure travel to the state was up 13.8 percent, increasing market share by 11 percent in this category and ranking Illinois 10th in the U.S. Illinois maintained its ranking as the seventh-most popular state for overseas visitors to the U.S. in 2010, hosting 1,186,000 overseas visitors, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Tourism Industries.

Jan Kostner, deputy director of the Illinois Office of Tourism, said: “Illinois tourism continues to be a significant component of the state’s economy. As we continue to develop new marketing efforts and other ways to invest in the industry, we maintain jobs and economic stability across the state.”

In Rockford, a key attraction continues to be the Rock River and the recreational opportunities it offers residents of Winnebago County and visitors from other regions.

Rich Barton, manager of Paddle and Trail, said: “We are seeing a lot of calls from the suburbs, and they are generating income that we would not otherwise have. In fact, at the rental shop at Sinnissippi (Park) last week, we had people from Downers Grove who were in Rockford for something else, and they decided to stay a few more hours to paddle our kayaks.”

Officials from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Office of Tourism (DCEO/IOT), also highlighted the results of 2010-2011 programs, in addition to highlighting the significant economic and social impact of Illinois’ travel and tourism industry, and presented plans and insight on catering to travelers with value-add packages, promotions and partnerships.

Highlights include the following:

• 2010-2011 initiatives: IOT highlighted some of the office’s milestone marketing programs from the past year including the Magnificent Getaways Giveaway in partnership with Midwest Living, a contest where consumers can win one of three once-in-a-lifetime getaways; and a new mobile application that acts as a personal trip planner and tour guide for visitors to Illinois, launching this summer.

• Advertising: IOT presented highlights from their latest campaign, There is a Place, which launched in spring 2011. The campaign integrates a cross-medium strategy with TV, radio, web and social media elements, all actively engaging prospective travelers by showcasing the unique combination of attractions offered throughout the state that can’t be experienced anywhere else in the Midwest.

Additionally, the office’s website,, was updated to include 14 new getaways; Kidventures “The Littles” tool, which provides suggestions for kid-friendly attractions based on a child’s interest; and a comprehensive calendar of events that can be accessed as a PDF or downloaded to a smart phone.

The Illinois Office of Tourism offers additional information about one-of-a-kind attractions, events statewide and suggested getaways on the office’s website,

From the July 6-12, 2011, issue

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