Gov. Pat Quinn recently announced that Illinois welcomed more than 103.5 million U.S. residents to the state in 2013, the largest number of domestic visitors to Illinois ever and the third consecutive year of record-breaking numbers.
The 2013 total was up 4.5 percent from the prior year, and one of the strongest growth sectors in 2013 was leisure travel, up 5.7 percent from 2012.
“For the third year in a row, Illinois has welcomed a record number of visitors, demonstrating that tourism is thriving in the Land of Lincoln,” Quinn said. “The tourism industry plays a vital role in driving the Illinois economy forward by supporting local communities and providing quality jobs across the state.
These numbers can be reflected by local tourism numbers, too.
“In 2013, the Encampment had a record number of attendants with 198,000 and the Superman Classic/ASA Archery Tournament had 26,500 attendants, with a record number of shooters for the Superman Classic of 375,” said Lindsey Stoner, Metropolis Director of Tourism, Southern Illinois Tourism Network.
“Most of our events in 2013 showed an increase in attendance,” added Stoner. “The new disc golf course is proving to be a big draw for the park. We began hosting tournaments this year to introduce the course and have gotten great feedback from the players. I have had players from as far as Mt. Vernon and Union City, Tenn.”
According to the state release, the increase in domestic visitors helped to drive the 2013 hotel-motel tax collections to more than $235 million, a 7.2 percent increase over 2012 and another record.
“The tourism industry is an integral part of the Illinois economy. These impressive visitor numbers demonstrate that Illinois has become a premier travel destination in the United States,” said Adam Pollet, director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), the agency that includes the Illinois Office of Tourism.
The DCEO tourism office has ramped up a momentum-building spring and summer advertising campaign that has already pushed consumer inquiries to an all-time high in 2014. The fresh, light-hearted advertising campaign features the popular “Mini Abe,” a miniature Abraham Lincoln who seeks to inspire people to discover the attractions, festivals, historical sites and adventures throughout Illinois. One Mini Abe commercial already has more than 1.7 million YouTube views.
“We are constantly developing cutting-edge and memorable ways to encourage visitors to explore Illinois,” Illinois Office of Tourism Director Jen Hoelzle said. “These record-breaking numbers prove that Illinois is top-of-mind for travelers.”
Destination information, trip inspiration ideas, the 2014 Illinois Travel Guide and more can be found at enjoyillinois.com or by calling 1-800-2CONNECT.