State says more U.S. tourists visiting Illinois, staying longer
Four new Illinois tourism ads will debut March 22 and run on television in the U.S., movie theaters in international markets and online everywhere.
More than 1 million additional visitors from around the country traveled to Illinois last year compared with 2015, and they spent more time here, according to new state tourism figures.
Illinois Tourism Director Cory Jobe is scheduled to announce the numbers and tout tourism’s economic impact at 10 a.m. Monday during a press conference in Chicago.
Among the statistics Jobe is expected to cite: About 110 million domestic tourists visited Illinois last year, an increase of more than 1 million. The vast majority of visitors — 83 percent — came for leisure as opposed to business.
The average stay lasted about 3 percent longer than the previous year. That figure outpaced national growth, which saw stays increase 2.4 percent, according to the Illinois Office of Tourism.
During the past decade, the number of U.S. travelers coming to Illinois has gone up by 19 million, officials said.
The latest round of tourism numbers reflects only domestic visitors; international figures are expected in June.
Tourism officials say that domestic visitors spent more than $35 billion in the state during 2016, a 1.8 percent increase in spending from the previous year. They generated $2.6 billion in state and local tax revenue, an increase of $106 million from 2015.
The state said that money spent by domestic travelers “directly supported” 302,100 jobs in Illinois, an increase of 9,600 jobs from 2015.
As for Chicago, the number of domestic visitors saw a bump of 2.7 percent in 2016. (Choose Chicago, the city’s tourism promotion organization, says a total of 54.11 million visitors came to the city last year: 52.55 million from the U.S. and 1.56 million from overseas.)
Tourism officials attributed some of the overall growth to the recent “Illinois Made” marketing campaign that highlights artisans and other creators around the state. That campaign launched last July. The second half of 2016 saw a 2.1 percent uptick in domestic visitors, compared to a 0.6 percent decline during the first half of the year.
The state recently invested $800,000 to create ads for its broader campaign, “Up for Amazing,” and is spending $15 million to advertise the message both here and abroad.
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