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June 13, 2000

Illinois Continues To Increase Overseas Visitor Numbers

CHICAGO -- Governor George Ryan today announced that Illinois is attracting more overseas visitors than ever before, according to the latest statistics released by the United States Department of Commerce. The statistics show that overseas visitors to Illinois increased 5.2 percent in 1999, with an economic impact of over $1.65 billion to the State of Illinois.

"We believe our state is an attractive international destination, a fact that these numbers support," Ryan said. "We will continue to market Illinois overseas as the ultimate American experience, from Chicago to the Shawnee National Forest."

Over the last two years, Illinois has seen a 16 percent increase in its overseas arrivals. In 1999, more than 1.32 million overseas visitors came to Illinois compared to 1.26 million in 1998. Statistics show Illinois maintained its ranking as the sixth most popular state, and Chicago has remained the ninth most popular city in the United States among overseas visitors. With a market share of 5.4 percent, Illinois is eclipsed only by coastal and gaming destinations such as California, Florida, New York, the Hawaiian Islands and Nevada, keeping the state as the premiere inland destination and gateway to the Midwest.

The UK and Germany, Illinois' top-two markets, both experienced growth above the national average in 1999. Illinois is the sixth most popular U.S. destination among UK travelers, with a 5.3 percent share of market in 1999 compared to a 3.6 percent in 1998. In Germany, Illinois is the sixth most popular destination with 7.1 percent of the market share in 1999, up from 6.6 percent in 1998. The city of Chicago ranks eighth in popularity for American cities among UK visitors and seventh among visitors from Germany.

Illinois' efforts to attract international visitors are overseen by the Illinois Trade Office of the Department of Commerce and Community Affairs. Since the first of the year, Governor Ryan has expanded the State's overseas presence by opening trade offices in Johannesburg, South Africa and Toronto, Canada.

"Under Governor Ryan's leadership, DCCA has aggressively marketed our state as a tourism destination to overseas travelers. Those efforts are paying off in the form of increased international visitors, who are pumping tourism dollars into our economy," said DCCA Director Pam McDonough.

The United States Department of Commerce predicts that international tourism will reach unprecedented levels in the year 2000, with a six percent overall growth. This translates into a record-breaking 51.5 million visitors and an economic impact of $104 billion nationwide.


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