Illinois Office of Tourism Announces 4th Consecutive Year of Record-Breaking Travel Industry Numbers

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Office of Tourism is celebrating a 4th consecutive year of record-breaking tourism industry numbers as part of a four day, 12-stop tour around Illinois. Tourism officials provided updates on local visitor data, job creation, revenue growth and new tourism initiatives during a special presentation at Curtis Orchard & Pumpkin Patch in Champaign County.

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 $323.48 million in Champaign County in 2014, an increase of 5.5 percent. These visitor expenditures directly supported 2,570 number of jobs and generated $5.33 million in local tax revenues. 

“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. 

“Champaign County saw more than double the growth rate in 2014 visitor expenditures and a $2 million increase in payroll, “ states Visit Champaign County President and CEO, Jayne DeLuce. “These increases are a direct result of our team’s efforts in drawing new and repeat business to Champaign County and marketing our community as a destination for families, conventions, sports tournaments, motorcoach groups and more. Tourism is an economic driver in Champaign County and we must all work together to continue to grow.” 

The events that helped increase these numbers range from the growth of festivals such as the Pygmalion Festival, Blues Brews & BBQ Festival, and Homer Soda Festival, major sports tournaments such as Game Day USA baseball and IHSA State Football Championships, conferences such as the Sister Singers Network and International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, and significant increases in group motorcoach, specifically in the international market. The current fiscal year just ended with new events such as the MVP Lacrosse Tournament, Follow the Farmstead and returning event—the Hot Rod Power Tour—as highlights. 

Visit Champaign County also just released their 2015–2016 Visitors Guide, available by request online at www.visitchampaigncounty.org/getinfo, by phone at 217-351-4133 or at the Welcome Center at 108 S. Neil St., Champaign.

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