SPRINGFIELD – In an effort to capitalize on the tremendous success of the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and its significant impact as a showcase attraction, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today named former State Journal-Register Publisher Patrick Coburn to chair the Destination Springfield civic leadership group. The Governor recognizes a unique opportunity to leverage the vast interest and legacy of President Abraham Lincoln and strengthen the destination appeal of Springfield. His initial vision would build on the momentum and impact of this new showcase attraction in Springfield to create a tourism initiative for Illinois that provides a cultural experience on par with the caliber, quality and character of Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. The overreaching objective is to continue the enhancement of Springfield into a multi-day attraction. Mr. Coburn will assemble members of the Destination Springfield civic leadership group, with support from the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, Springfield Mayor Tim Davlin, and others, and make recommendations for how to move this innovative, non-partisan initiative forward.
“Lincoln is Illinois’ legacy to the world, and he provides us with a tremendous opportunity to capitalize on the global interest he generates every day. Pat Coburn is a student of Lincoln, of Springfield and of Central Illinois. A project with this kind of importance to our national heritage needs the support of the private sector, local elected officials, historians and regional leaders. Pat is going to bring these people together and help us make Destination Springfield a reality. This can be a powerful attraction that will entertain, educate and put more people to work for years to come,” Gov. Blagojevich said.
The Governor has already challenged a collection of civic and business leaders and creative planning experts to conceive of a master development strategy. With the Governor providing the initial support to explore this concept, Destination Springfield is contemplated to be a predominately private/civic sector initiative utilizing the interest and financial resources of stakeholders, investors, developers and corporate sponsors.
“I want to thank Gov. Blagojevich for the chance to work with our public and private leaders here in Springfield and across Illinois on a project to build on all of the success of the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Abraham Lincoln had unbelievable courage and strength, and we must use his example to work together to bring Destination Springfield alive,” Mr. Coburn said.
Springfield and Illinois are poised to capture the growth market of travel, tourism and entertainment, the world’s largest industry today and fastest growing industry sector in the United States, by leveraging the vast interest and legacy of President Lincoln for both cultural and economic development initiatives. Destination Springfield is a clever and compelling vision that enhances the existing Lincoln venues, builds upon the many assets of Springfield, and maximizes the “heartland of America” location to define a collection of world-class destination attractions for Illinois, the Midwest and the nation.
In 2005, travel to Illinois directly accounted for more than 300,000 Illinois jobs, including more than 400 new jobs in 2005, that generated nearly $7.9 billion in wages. Economic impact generated by travel spending in 2005 in Illinois grew to a record $26.2 billion, an increase of 6.8 percent, generating $1.84 billion in state and local tax revenue, according to the Travel Industry Association of America. This added an additional $74.2 million in state and local taxes in 2005.
Illinois’ total domestic person-trip volume also increased to a record high of 90.78 million visitors in 2005, according to D.K. Shifflet & Associates. Illinois’ strong growth was largely spurred by a 10.7 percent increase in business travel.
Overseas visitors have climbed by 39 percent over the past two years greatly contributing to Illinois’ growth, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. There was an 18 percent increase in the number of overseas visitors in 2005. More than 1.1 million people from around the globe came to Illinois making it the 6th most popular U.S. state for overseas travelers.
The expenditures made by travelers in Sangamon County in 2005 were nearly $321 million, which was up almost 9 percent from 2004.