Jacksonville tourism officials have announced the best year ever recorded. In 2016, tourism to Jacksonville generated over 8 and a half million dollars in payroll, brought in over one million dollars in added local tax revenue, and visitors spent over fifty million dollars.
The Fifth Annual National Travel and Tourism Week will be celebrated until Saturday the 12th. The Jacksonville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau is opening their office after-hours for an event this afternoon from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Mayor Andy Ezard will make a declaration at 5 p.m., and the “Friend of Tourism” award will be presented shortly after the Mayor’s speech
Gwenn Eyer and Brittany Henry with the Jacksonville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau joined WLDS yesterday for the latest What’s On Your Mind segment to elaborate on the many historic and modern tourist attractions in Jacksonville as well as speak about the after hours event.
Eyer details many of the opportunities travelers can see and enjoy in and around town.
“Jacksonville certainly has many opportunities for people who are interested in historic sites. We have a high number of underground railroad sites here, and I think probably the showpiece on that would be Woodlawn Farm, which is open for tourists during the summer. We have the Bed and Breakfast on West State Street, and right down the street from us is the only existing governor’s mansion outside of Springfield, the Duncan – Governor Duncan home. So that’s another one that people can come to tour for history. We have sporting events, including car races and boat races, ball games, all kinds of things that go along with athletics. We have great locally-owned restaurants, locally-owned shops. We do a lot of business with sending people to our local restaurants and sending them downtown.”
Henry talks about some of the features of tonight’s celebration that had not been announced.
“We do have a couple extra things going on that we didn’t promote on the postcard that went out. We will have… the ‘Friend of Tourism’ award will be given directly after the proclamation, at 5:15. I will be presenting that right after Mayor Ezard gets finished. We’ll have hors d’oeuvres and drinks. We do have something new this year that we’re going to be featuring. We’ll probably do it right around the time the Mayor gets ready to do the proclamation. We have a short, one-minute video that we’re going to be showcasing of Jacksonville and the impacts that tourism has on our region. So I’m very excited about that. Steve Weber created that film for us. This is very exciting… that we have this video that we’re going to showcase, because it makes a lot of the things that drive travel and tourism to our industry, it’s really going to showcase those.”
Henry mentions more of what the JACVB will offer during the event this afternoon, as well as a new feature for the city’s entrance ways that will be on display during the after hours celebration.
“We’re going to do a celebration with a cake, so we’ve got a little cake celebrating then and now in tourism, so we would like everybody to celebrate, have a slice of cake, have something to eat. We also have some new shirts, they’re very modern, very exciting. There are two different styles, so those will be for sale. People are always asking us to have Jacksonville items. We’ve listened to the comments and we were able to get the shirts in in time, and then we’re going to be picking up some signage that we’re going to have on display for the ‘Looking for Lincoln’ sites for our National Heritage Area. So everyone will be able to see those and that’s something you’ll be able to see when people come into town, into Jacksonville.”
The Jacksonville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau is located at 301 East State Street. To hear more from Gwenn Eyer and Brittany Henry in regards to the Jacksonville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and the event tonight, go to the What’s on Your Mind section under the news tab at WLDS.com.