CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) – The state of Illinois is seeing an increase in tourism this year, and it’s a breath of fresh air after people were urged to stay home as the coronavirus was starting.
Taxes generated by tourism dollars fell last year, but the Visit Champaign County group said it was already seeing more visitors and jobs coming back this year.
Economic impact data shows more than 1,300 jobs have been lost. Local tax revenues fell by 17% and direct expenditure by almost 35%.
Jayne DeLuce is the President and CEO of visit Champaign County. She said that in 2019, Champaign County was on the right track with tourism. In fact, she said she had the highest growth rate in the state, then the pandemic hit, and almost everywhere in the state was hit.
DeLuce said what she sees in Champaign County makes her optimistic about the future.
Each county in the state receives information on the economic impact of the previous year. Not surprisingly, the travel and tourism industries were hit last year.
âI think people are finding a way to support our local businesses. This holiday season is a great time to browse local produce, buy local, eat local and just get out there and discover great things they have in our community. As we weren’t able to do a lot of things last year, I think people are more excited to be able to do it this year, âshe said.
DeLuce said they are already seeing a significant increase in the number of people staying at local hotels, and she believes those numbers will continue to rise.
Nationally, recovery from the pandemic is not expected until around 2024. DeLuce said she believes Champaign County will see the 2019 numbers much sooner.
Economic impact of domestic travel by county:
Travel spending – $ 326 million (36.6% decrease)
Local tax revenue – $ 10.2 million (18.4% decrease)
Travel expenses – $ 38.5 million (13.0% decrease)
Local tax revenue – $ 1.0 (9% decrease)
Travel expenses – $ 8.9 million (13.9% increase)
Local tax revenue – $ 0.4 million (no change)
Travel expenses – $ 6.2 million (39.3% decrease)
Local tax revenue – $ 0.30 million (25% increase)