Already a subscriber? Log in
- Unparalleled business coverage of the Iowa City / Cedar Rapids corridor.
- Immediate access to subscriber-only content on our website.
- 52 issues per year delivered digitally, in print or both.
- Support locally owned and operated journalism.
Tourism in Illinois continued its rebound from COVID-19 lows throughout the last fiscal year, but it has not yet matched the impressive upward trajectory the industry enjoyed before the pandemic. To explore ways to turn that needle up higher and faster, Daniel Thomas, deputy director of the Illinois Office of Tourism, visited Bally’s Quad Cities Casino and Hotel in Rock Island on Tuesday, Nov. 7, as part of his State of Illinois Tourism Listening Tour. Tuesday’s Quad Cities stop — at which dozens of tourism stakeholders gathered to share their challenges and wish lists — was jointly hosted by Visit Quad Cities President and CEO Dave Herrell and Experience Galesburg Executive Director Randy Newcomb. Topping the list of tourism wins for the State of Illinois in the fiscal year that ended June 30 is recording a record-breaking $308 million in hotel-motel tax revenues. That total surpassed a pre-pandemic record set in fiscal year 2019. Last year, the state also welcomed 111 million visitors who spent $44 billion in 2022, or 14 million additional travelers who spent $12 million more than calendar year 2022. Those 111 million visitors represent a third of the nation’s population, Mr. Thomas said. State taxes also totaled about $22 million, that’s up 27% year over year. Those numbers are important to “residents and local communities because what we do is help lower household income taxes in the State of Illinois about $1,260 per household,” he added. “That was very exciting news and we’re very proud of that,” Mr. Thomas said. A native of New Zealand, he grew up in the hospitality industry including in America and was appointed to lead the Illinois Tourism Office three months ago by Gov. J.B. Pritzker. Mr. Thomas called the governor the “chief marketing officer of the state” and remains deeply committed to helping grow tourism to pre-pandemic levels.