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July 2, 1999

Travel And Tourism Spending In Illinois Sets New Record

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced that consumer spending on travel and tourism in Illinois hit a record level of nearly $21 billion in 1998, according to the U.S. Travel Data Center. Travel-related expenditures in the state jumped by 7.5 percent, more than double the national average of 3 percent.

"When more visitors from across the nation and around the world come to Illinois and spend their money, more jobs are created and our tax revenues increase," Ryan said. "These latest numbers show that our aggressive tourism marketing efforts are paying off, and the people of Illinois are reaping the rewards."

To ensure this trend continues, Ryan secured an additional $5.1 million for this fiscal year for the Department of Commerce and Community Affairs' (DCCA) tourism promotion efforts. The new funding will be used for advertising campaigns that target both domestic and overseas markets.

Tourism-related employment last year supported 297,700 Illinois jobs, up 3.3 percent from 1997. The jobs -- mostly in food service, public transportation and lodging -- generated a $6.9 billion payroll, a nearly 7 percent increase. Tax revenues increased by 8.5 percent to $3.9 billion.

Illinois operates the largest state-funded tourism program in the nation, with a total annual budget of $46 million this fiscal year to promote domestic and international tourism. Because DCCA's tourism advertising campaign is funded primarily through a tax on hotel and motel rooms, most of the cost is financed by out-of-state visitors.

"Whether we're marketing Illinois as a weekend getaway or as an international destination, the end result is that more people are visiting our state and spending their money here," DCCA Director Pam McDonough said.

The growth in Illinois' tourism industry was led by the international market, which saw a record-high 10.5 percent increase in overseas visitors and an 8.9 percent increase in expenditures, accounting for more than $1.5 billion of the $21 billion in travel-related expenditures.

To capitalize on this market, DCCA is conducting research into expanding Illinois' presence in Japan, Mexico and France. DCCA's Bureau of Tourism currently retains in-country public relations personnel and trade representatives in Germany and the United Kingdom.

On the domestic front, U.S. traveler expenditures increased 7.4 percent, while the number of visitors held steady at 76.3 million. However, the number of business travelers to downstate Illinois increased by 23.2 percent.

Consumer spending on travel and tourism in Illinois has increased every year for the last 13 years.


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