Local, state tourism up in 2013

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The Peoria area, much like the state of Illinois, enjoyed increased tourism during 2013, the third consecutive year the numbers were higher, according to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

Revealing numbers during a statewide tour that included a stop and news conference at the Peoria Riverfront Museum, the DCEO said the eight-county region represented by the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau received $643.6 million in spending by tourists in 2013.

That was an increase of 1.8 percent over 2012 for the entire region, with Peoria County realizing  an increase of 2.6 percent, according to state figures. The Peoria region consists of Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Bureau, Mason, Marshal, Fulton and Stark counties.

From that spending more than $14.8 million in local taxes were generated.

Statewide, nearly 105.7 million visitors came to Illinois in 2013, which was an increase of 4.5 percent over 2012. More than $2.6 billion in revenue was generated, the DCEO said.  

“The continued increase in visitors to Illinois year-over-year proves that both leisure and business travelers are increasingly considering Illinois as a premier travel destination, providing a direct economic benefit for communities across the state, like the Peoria Area,” said Jen Hoelzle, director of the Illinois Office of Tourism. “With our marketing and promotional efforts, like the popular MiniAbe campaign, we are inspiring travelers from across the country and around the world to come discover what makes Illinois such a wonderful place to visit.”

Don Welch, CEO and President of the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau echoed that sentiment. “We are very pleased to see that the numbers of visitors to the Peoria Area continues to grow, as does the amount that visitors spend locally in hotels, restaurants, attractions, shops and other Central Illinois businesses. We have the largest convention center in Illinois outside of Chicago, and the addition of new hotels like the Peoria Marriott Courtyard, new venues like the Louisville Slugger Sports Complex and the opening of new attractions like Running Central, will all help attract even more business and leisure travelers to the Peoria area,” Welch said.

Sue Atherton, vice president of marketing and communications for the Visitors Bureau, said the increase wasn’t as large as the previous year, when the newness of some facilities like the Peoria Riverfront Museum and Caterpillar Visitors Center were a factor. Also, she said, harsh weather last year played a role.

“Our numbers are getting better and now we are seeing even more things come on line that should help lure tourists,” she said. She added that the Peoria Civic Center’s national recognition announced Thursday  ̶  that it is the top convention center in downstate Illinois and ranked number 125 in the country  ̶  will bring numbers higher, as well.

Broken down by county, here are some of the pertinent local numbers:


About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).