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Tourism up in Illinois, region

Grundy sees increased spending

Published: Saturday, July 27, 2013 4:59 a.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, July 29, 2013 1:35 p.m. CDT

Illinois tourism continues to grow across the state, including a travel expenditure increase in Grundy County of 4.3 percent.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the Office of Tourism went on a Road Show earlier this month, announcing the positive economic impact the state is receiving due to the increase in travelers visiting the state’s unique destinations.

The Road Show made stops all around the state – including at Starved Rock State Park Lodge in Utica July 11 — to announce the 2012 tourism numbers.

“All across the Illinois and Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor, the effect of travel is clear and it is powerful,” said Bob Navarro, Heritage Corridor Convention and Visitors Bureau president, in a press release. Navarro was present at the Starved Rock stop, as were Starved Rock, office of tourism and La Salle County representatives.

The 2012 year was the second year in a row tourism expenditures in Illinois have gone up, totaling $30.9 billion last year.

The region received $837.28 million in travel expenditures and $61.11 million in state and local tax receipts, according to the press release.

Throughout the corridor, the numbers have increased: in Grundy County, by 4.3 percent; in Will, by 4.5 percent; and, in La Salle and Putnam, by 2.5 percent.

“We are thrilled with the figures and tourism’s ability to attract visitors, support our towns and bolster the success of local businesses,” said Navarro. “Our partner members are definitely helping each other succeed, and making for a great visitor experience in which we can all take pride.”

Grundy County benefitted from $61.17 million in travel expenditures, bringing in $5.5 million in tax receipts, according to the press release.

Starved Rock is the state’s most visited state park and, because of this, during the Road Show stop, Kathy Casstevens-Jasiek was given the state of Illinois Lincoln Award for her efforts. Starved Rock has 12 million visitors annually.

Overall, Illinois hosted more than 99 million domestic visitors in 2012, which is a 6.1 percent increase over the previous-record 93.3 million U.S. residents who visited the state in 2011. This made almost $31 billion for Illinois’ economy in 2012.

“Another year of record-breaking numbers proves that travel is back and the tourism industry in Illinois is thriving,” said Governor Pat Quinn in his press release. “Our world-class cultural attractions and destinations continue to attract more and more visitors to Illinois each year, which, in turn, directly drives the state’s economy growth.”

Also during the tourism presentations, it was announced that Bill Kurtis, journalist and documentarian, will be joining the Illinois Office of Tourism as the new voice of Illinois tourism. He will work on numerous marketing projects with the office.

For its media campaign, the office of tourism continues to ask people to share their travel experiences in Illinois by submitting photos and videos to ILMagStuff.com. or with the #ILMagStuff hashtag on social media outlets.

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