From Illinois Business Journal news services
SWANSEA – The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Office of Tourism is celebrating a fourth consecutive year of record-breaking tourism industry numbers.
The agency recently was in Lebanon, at The Hettenhausen Center for the Arts at McKendree University, as part of a 12-stop event to tout the successes.
In 2014, the state’s tourism industry hosted more than 109.4 million visitors, an increase of 3.5 percent over 2013, generating more than $36.3 billion in travel expenditures. Visitors spent $1.14 billion in the Illinois South Tourism area in 2014, an increase of 4.5 percent percent. Those visitor expenditures directly supported 8,280 jobs and generated $27 million in local tax revenues, the office said.
“The ongoing increase in visitors to Illinois year-demonstrates that both leisure and business travelers are considering Illinois a premier travel destination, providing a direct economic benefit for communities across the state,” said Cory Jobe, director of the Illinois Office of Tourism. “These numbers are a true testament that the industry’s efforts to support and promote travel to Illinois are paying off, year after year.”
Jobe highlighted two new marketing initiatives to promote Illinois’ unique travel offerings – the launch of “Enjoy,” a newly formatted, bi-annual Illinois leisure travel magazine designed to inspire travel with featured content and unique experiences; and the Illinois Made program. Illinois is full of inventors, artists, performers, innovators, pioneers and makers. Illinois Made will showcase and celebrate these makers, their passion for what they do and the positive impact they’ve made on the people and culture of the state.
“We are thrilled with the recently announced tourism numbers and what it means for this area” says Jo Kathmann, president and CEO of Illinois South Tourism. “We represent the largest territory of any convention/visitors bureau in the state, and our regional approach to promoting tourism is paying off. With cooperation from our members and tourism partners, we are able to cross-promote between urban and rural counties. This leads to billions of dollars in revenue every year and employs thousands of people.”
This year, The Tourism Bureau ILLINOISouth became “Illinois South Tourism” to offer a brand for the region that is easy to remember and identify. The office was recently selected by Hamilton County as their state-certified Convention/Visitors Bureau. Hamilton makes the 20th county represented by Illinois South Tourism, and is home to the City of McLeansboro and the Hamilton County State Fish and Wildlife Area featuring the 75-acre Dolan Lake.
For more information about planning an Illinois getaway and to order a free copy of the 2015 Illinois Travel Guide, visit EnjoyIllinois.com.