CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today announced that the Illinois tourism industry generated a record $31.8 billion in 2011, up 8.4 percent from a year ago. The increase of nearly $2.5 billion was fueled by a record increase in leisure travel. The robust results mark the industry’s return to pre-recession levels and emphasize the critical role tourism plays in fueling Illinois’ economic growth, creating jobs and providing additional revenue to the state.
“With our world-class cultural attractions and destinations, it is no surprise that travel to Illinois continues to increase year after year,” Governor Quinn said. “I am committed to showing the world that Illinois why Illinois is a great place to visit, and welcoming even more visitors to our state.”
The number of visitors in Illinois also set a record. The state’s tourism industry hosted more than 93.3 million visitors in 2011, an increase of 10.2 percent from 2010 and surpassing the previous high of 91 million visitors in 2006. The number of overseas visitors to Illinois rose 6 percent to 1.255 million, the highest level since 2008.
“The tourism industry is a vital part of the Illinois economy,” added David Vaught, acting director, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. “The state’s efforts to promote tourism have created more jobs for hospitality and travel workers while also raising Illinois’ profile as an attractive place to visit and do business.”
Illinois travel industry estimates indicate 4,490 jobs were created in 2011, increasing the number of travel workers in Illinois to approximately 291,990.
State and local tax revenues from tourism totaled more than $2.3 billion in 2011, an increase of more than $300 million. State tax revenue rose 20 percent to $1.64 billion while local tax revenue rose 5.1 percent to $706 million.
“We continue to develop innovative ways to encourage visitors to travel to Illinois, building on the growth that points to the overall recovery of the tourism industry,” said Jan Kostner, deputy director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s Office of Tourism.
During the past five years, the economic impact of tourism in Illinois has grown by more than $3.5 billion. The Illinois Office of Tourism directly supports the travel industry by promoting visitor travel both domestically and internationally, to help grow the tourism industry throughout the state. Destination information, trip inspiration ideas, the 2012 Illinois Travel Guide and more can be found at enjoyillinois.com or by calling 1-800-2CONNECT.