A new dining pavilion at Woodfield Mall, a renovated course in Addison, the addition of Great Wolf Lodge in Gurnee and new hotels and restaurants dotting the suburbs are simply several additions helping tourism thrive and grow in your community.
Visitors spent $39.5 billion in Illinois in 2017, up 3 percent from 2016, in line with the U.S. Travel Association. Spending by visitors generated $2.95 billion in state and local tax revenue, up $75 million from 2016, the association reported.
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Local tourism leaders say the suburbs mirror those gains.
Among examples: Expenditures for travel in the Aurora area exceeded $200 million in 2017 and represent a 3.7 percent increase over 2016 with local tax receipts generated from travel up 4 percent to $3.9 million, said Cort Carlson, executive director for the Aurora Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The Northwest suburbs saw 2 percent growth in hotel guest room revenue in 2017, said Dave Parulo, president of Meet Chicago Northwest. “In the initial half a year of 2018, we have been pacing above that at 2 slightly.2 percent.”
And in Lake County, “hotel occupancies are up 5 percent,” said Maureen Riedy, president of Visit Lake County. The remodeling at Marriott Lincolnshire Resort and the opening of Great Wolf Lodge have attracted new visitors, she said.
The grand opening of Great Wolf Lodge in Gurnee in late June was a highlight, she said. The $65 million investment and year of construction transformed KeyLime Cove Resort right into a family destination having an expanded indoor water park, entertainment options and 7 nearly, 800 square feet of banquet space with breakout rooms for events and meetings, Riedy said.
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s Office of Tourism said 2017 marked the seventh consecutive year of record-breaking tourism in hawaii.
Visitors to Illinois hit an all-time saturated in 2017. Gov. Bruce Rauner said nearly 114 million people traveled to hawaii this past year and gave a $1.1 billion boost to the state’s economy.
Last year’s visitor totals were 1.4 percent greater than 2016, year which also was an archive. Travelers originated from around the globe for business (17 percent) and pleasure (83 percent). During the past a decade, travelers visiting Illinois increased by a lot more than 22 million, and tourism is becoming among the state’s most significant industries. The Illinois tourism industry supported 335,500 jobs in 2017, a rise of 18,600 jobs since 2015.
“Tourism is really a critical section of our economy,” Rauner said. “There’s so much to see and do inside our state. It really is gratifying to learn that a lot of people come here every year to see what we must offer.”
Despite increases in size, local tourism experts be worried about challenges posed by Illinois’ dismal finances, increased competition from surrounding difficulties and states attracting workers to the hospitality sector.
“While tourism in DuPage keeps growing, so may be the competition too,” said Beth Marchetti, executive director of the DuPage Convention & Visitors Bureau.
In DuPage County, tourism makes up about a lot more than 23,000 employees and produces a lot more than $2.6 billion in visitor expenditures, including $46 million in local taxes for communities and the county, she said.
To stay competitive, the suburbs continue steadily to add and upgrade venues and attractions. For example, This season woodfield Mall opened a fresh dining pavilion. In Addison, following 2 yrs of renovation and construction following a fire in ’09 2009, The Preserve at Oak Meadows, an 18-hole championship course owned by the DuPage County Forest Preserve District, welcomed golfers for the initial full season back, Marchetti said.
Community development helps foster the hospitality industry, Parulo said, with projects like converting the Motorola campus to a mixed use development in Schaumburg, developing an industrial and tech park in Elk Grove Village and improving the Arlington Heights Road corridor in Arlington Heights.
Among new hotels certainly are a new My Place Hotel in North Aurora, a fresh Holiday Inn Express set open in Yorkville and a fresh Best Western Premier that’s likely to break ground in Aurora later this season.
Other tourist draws are food truck festivals just like the one at Arlington Park, a Lake County Libation Trail highlighting craft breweries, distilleries and wineries, and new restaurants like Elgin’s Gifford’s Kitchen and Old Republic, along with Bricks Firewood Pizzas and Kubo Sushi in the downtown area, said Krisilee Murphy, executive director of the Elgin Area Visitors and Convention Bureau.
Events donate to the mix. The Aurora area has hosted four major Ultimate disk tournaments, in July like the USA Ultimate Masters Championships, and was recently selected by readers of Sports Destination Management as a “Favorite Small Market Destination” because of its assortment of athletic venues for professional, youth and amateur sports.
“Being recognized on a national level for the sports destination was an absolute highlight this season,” Carlson said.
Meanwhile, the suburbs are feeling a nagging problem common to the hospitality industry — attracting employees.
“The largest concern at this time is filling jobs,” Murphy said. “A couple of years back people could have begged to possess this issue. Now with the hospitality industry successful there are several jobs to be enjoyed in the Elgin area,” she said.
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