May 16 – Governor Bruce Rauner announced this week that Illinois tourism saw an all-time high in 2017.
Nearly 114 million people traveled to the Prairie State and brought $1.1 billion to the state’s economy. According to the U.S. Travel Association, Illinois visitors spent $39.5 billion in 2017, a three percent increase from 2016.
Teri Hammel, Executive Director of the Decatur Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, said after the Decatur Celebration, visitors come from all over to attend meetings and events. “The Decatur/Forsyth area is definitely a destination for meetings, conventions, and sporting events,” said Hammel in their 2017 Annual Report. Those events and meetings generated $797,500 in Hotel/Motel tax for Decatur and $498,376.76 for Forsyth.
While the Decatur Celebration brings many people to the area for the three day festival, Hammel said there are other area events that are well attended. In 2018, there will be the Forsyth Classic, USTA/Ursula Beck Pro Tennis Classic, softball tournaments, and more. These events not only bring in dollars through hotel/motel tax but also through shopping and restaurant revenue.
Governor Rauner said, “Tourism is a critical part of our economy. There is so much to see and do in our state. It is satisfying to know that so many people come here each year to experience what we have to offer.” The Illinois tourism industry supported 335,500 jobs in 2017, an increase of 18,600 jobs since 2015.