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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 7, 2000

Illinois Tourism Industry Leaders Meet In Springfield

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today opened the 2000 Governor's Conference on Tourism with more than 500 representatives from convention and visitors' bureaus, hotels, airlines and trade organizations coming together to share ideas about how to better promote Illinois attractions and destinations. This year's conference, "Past Reflections, Future Connections," runs February 7-9 at the Prairie Capital Convention Center and Springfield Hilton.

"By bringing Illinois tourism leaders together, we can find new ways to expand this vibrant industry," said Governor George H. Ryan, adding that his new budget for fiscal year 2001 earmarks millions of dollars in additional revenues to promote tourism. "Tourism is an important economic engine, pumping $21 billion a year into the state's economy and employing nearly 300,000 workers. I am committed to making sure this industry continues to grow."

Governor Ryan's 2001 budget includes $61.5 million to fund tourism-related initiatives, an increase of $2.7 million over last year. The Governor has also earmarked $40 million to assist with the construction of a new Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield.

This year's conference is being organized by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs (DCCA) and Visit Illinois.

This year's conference will focus on opportunities and consumer trends in the new millennium, family travel, international tourism, sports and destination marketing, and how technology is revolutionizing the industry.

The Conference will feature nationally-renowned speakers including Roger Ballou, Global Vacations Group and former TIA National Chair, who will discuss future trends in national tourism; Peter Yesawich, Yesawich, Pepperdine & Brown/Christian, who will give his travel predictions; and Mark Hoffman, who will discuss how to target the growing and evolving senior market.

In addition, DCCA Director Pam McDonough will join Cathy Ritter, DCCA Deputy Director, Bureau of Tourism, and Joe Hannon, DCCA Managing Director, Illinois Trade Office, for the State of the State of Tourism address at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, February 8th. The three officials will discuss the success that the industry has experienced over the past year and how DCCA will expand its marketing efforts to reach more people, including international visitors.

In 1999, Illinois was honored by several different organizations for its tourism marketing efforts. The Travel Industry Association of America awarded Illinois the prestigious Odyssey Award in the category of Domestic Travel Marketing for its advertising campaign designed to increase the number of weekend vacationers in the state. The State also received the Mobius International Advertising Award, two Silver Trumpet Awards from the Publicity Club of Chicago and the ESTO Marketing and Promotion Creative Award for Outstanding Achievement. Chicago was also named the "World's Best City" by overseas readers of Conde Nast Traveler.

"Whether it's the culture of Chicago or the natural beauty of the Shawnee National Forest, there is so much to see and do in Illinois. I salute those in the tourism industry for their efforts to make our state a premier travel destination and look forward to working with them to make our state even more attractive to visitors," McDonough said.


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