Jacksonville area tourism provided a significant boost to the state’s domestic economic growth over the past year.
Figures released by the Illinois Office of Tourism revealed that domestic and international travel expenditures was up more than half a billion dollars from 2015 to 2016, reaching nearly $38 billion.
As for tourism in the local area over the past year, Jacksonville played a substantial role in the state’s overall growth. Specifically, Jacksonville area tourism brought in more than $50 million in travel expenditures and just over $1 million in local tax revenue.
Those local travel expenditures increased nearly 7 percent from the previous year, while local tax revenue saw an increase close to 12 percent. Executive Director of the Jacksonville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau Brittany Henry says 2016 was an historic year for local tourism.
“This is the biggest increase we’ve had in our tourism numbers, a 6.9 percent increase (in travel expenditures) is a huge increase, that’s a lot of money being spent in our community on tourism. If you think about $50.28 million in travel expenditures for a community of our size, that’s a lot of money being pumped into the community by business travelers, leisure travelers, education, sports, everything that makes Jacksonville so diverse. People are spending money in our community, and tourism is definitely on the uprise and we’re excited to be a part of that community,” says Henry.
Henry explains how the increased tourism figures contributes to the local economy.
“Every dollar that we invest comes back into the community and we’ve got a nice marketing budget that we’re using to again promote Jacksonville, and in turn, all of those dollars are coming back into the community. We’ve talked employment, we’ve talked about increased spending, the diversity of our community, but it also supports infrastructure. It’s a better quality of life for not only our travelers that come, but it also develops new social advantages for our community. It builds business relationships, community pride, it makes everyone a little more excited about everything that we’ve got going on,” Henry says.
Along with the increases in travel expenditures and local tax revenue, the tourism industry created 10,000 new jobs throughout the state, including 310 new jobs in Jacksonville.