CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today announced that Illinois has set an all-time record for tourism, breaking the 100 million visitor mark in 2012. International visitors rose 11.8 percent last year to set another new record and push the total to 101 million. Tourism in Illinois generated an estimated $33.5 billion and 298,700 jobs for the state’s economy, also new high marks for the state.
The record tourism numbers reflect Governor Quinn’s targeted efforts to showcase Illinois as a travel destination. In the past two years, Illinois has launched a new tourism marketing campaign; promoted Illinois tourism on trade missions to Canada, China, Mexico and Brazil; and worked closely with local convention and visitors bureaus across Illinois to trumpet the unique attributes of their regions.
“Our world-class destinations continue to attract more domestic and international visitors to Illinois each year, and this means jobs and economic growth for our state,” Governor Quinn said. “These record-breaking numbers show that the economic engine of tourism in Illinois is firing on all cylinders.”
Total international arrivals in Illinois hit 2,082,200 in 2012, a new record and an 11.8 percent increase over 2011. The news follows this summer’s announcement that Illinois hosted more than 99 million domestic visitors in 2012, a 6.1 percent increase over the record 93.3 million U.S. residents who visited Illinois in 2011.
This also marks the second year in a row that Illinois’ visitor numbers broke records and outpaced the national average of 5.4 percent, highlighting the industry’s vital contributions to Illinois’ economic growth, job creation and tax revenue.
Overseas arrivals reached 1,399,000 last year, up 11.4 percent, and visitors from Canada increased 9.9 percent in 2012. Domestic and international travelers directly spent $33.5 billion in Illinois in 2012, up 5.7 percent from 2011. U.S. travelers’ expenditures grew 5 percent while international travelers’ expenditures increased 14.4 percent. These travel related expenditures generated 298,700 jobs, including full-time and seasonal part-time positions in the state. This reflects a 2.3 percent increase and 6,700 new jobs.
Increasing tourism and its resulting economic impact are part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to create jobs and drive Illinois’ economy forward.
“These impressive numbers demonstrate the vital role the tourism industry plays in the state’s economy,” Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director Adam Pollet said. “The double-digit increase of international visitors to Illinois has directly benefited our state by generating tax revenue and creating additional high-quality jobs for people across Illinois.”
“The visitor increases in 2012 illustrate Illinois’ appeal as a premier travel destination for both leisure and business travelers,” Deputy Director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s Office of Tourism Jen Heolzle said. “We’re driving additional growth in international markets by continuing to develop innovative ways to share unique stories and opportunities for visitors and potential visitors to discover all that the state offers.”
The Illinois Office of Tourism (IOT) directly supports the travel industry by promoting visitor travel both domestically and internationally, to help grow the tourism industry throughout the state. IOT is funded by a percentage of the state’s hotel and motel tax revenue.
Destination information, trip inspiration ideas, the 2013 Illinois Travel Guide and more can be found at enjoyillinois.com or by calling 1-800-2CONNECT.