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Illinois Office of Tourism Announces Robust Growth


An additional one million domestic travelers visited Illinois in 2016, bringing an increase in visitor spending, tax revenue and local jobs

The Illinois Office of Tourism announced robust growth during a press conference today kicking-off National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW) May 7-13. In celebration of the US travel and tourism industry, an expanded Illinois Made program was also introduced featuring unique artisans and creators, all small business owners helping to drive tourism around the state.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner released domestic Illinois tourism figures for 2016, highlighting that for every $1 invested in tourism in Illinois, it generates $9 in economic impact.

  • Illinois welcomed an additional one million visitors than 2015 (110 million total domestic visitors)
    • Of those 110 million domestic visitors, 17% of visitors were for business and 83% for leisure purposes
    • In the past 10 years, domestic travelers visiting Illinois increased by 19 million
    • Chicago experienced stronger year-over-year domestic traveler growth (2.7%) than total U.S. domestic traveler growth (2.4%)
  • Domestic travelers spent nearly $35.1 billion in Illinois during 2016, a 1.8% increase from 2015
    • In 2016, domestic travelers to Illinois generated $2.6 billion in state and local tax revenue, an increase of $106 million from 2015
  • In 2015 and 2016, 20,000 tourism-related jobs were created in Illinois
  • Domestic travel supported 302,000 jobs within Illinois, an increase of 9,600 jobs from 2015 on top of the 10,000 jobs created the previous year
  • Visitor length of stay increased by 3%, higher than the US average of 2.4%

According to Skift and Peak DMC, a global travel expert network, more than 72% of consumers would rather spend money on “experiences” than things. In that light, the new Illinois Made “Art-is-an” interactive itineraries were created to drive tourism to the state by highlighting truly local experiences tourists can’t find anywhere else. They include:

  • Illinois Made on Route 66: Cruise the state’s iconic Mother Road to experience Illinois’ best and eccentric experiences. Taste classic Illinois Made flavors and explore hidden gems along the way.
  • Illinois Made Outdoor Adventures: Witness the natural wonders of Illinoisstate parks from Peoria and Utica to scenic bike trails in Alton and the Garden of the Gods at Shawnee National Forest.
  • Illinois Made in Chicago: Discover the latest local artisans and hangouts in Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods including Pilsen, Logan Square and Wicker Park.
  • Illinois Made Local Flavors: Taste your way through Springfield, Altonand Southern Illinois through local wineries, craft brewers and hand-picked coffee spots and neighborhood restaurants.

New Illinois Made partnerships include a first-of-its-kind tourist attraction launching this summer on the Chicago River. Shoreline Sightseeing will offer Illinois Made themed cruises in June and August where tourists and locals can experience an authentic “Taste of Illinois” culinary cruise featuring food and beverages from Illinois Made artisans.

“This year’s National Travel and Tourism Week theme recognizes ‘Faces of Travel,’ saluting the amazing people behind the travel industry. Here in Illinoiswe want to recognize and promote more of our Illinois Made artisans who are small businesses and job creators helping to drive the state’s economy,” said Cory Jobe, Director of the Illinois Office of Tourism. “The expanded Illinois Made program will attract new visitors to explore our state, while supporting local businesses and generating important tourism spending for our communities.”

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About the author

Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1977).
He founded eTurboNews in 1999 as the first online newsletter for the global travel tourism industry.