CHICAGO – Gov. Pat Quinn has announced 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 surge in tourism generated more than $31 billion for the state’s economy in 2012, and the numbers will be even higher when international visitor numbers are available later this summer.
“Another year of record-breaking numbers proves that travel is back, and the tourism industry in Illinois is thriving,” Quinn said. “Our world-class cultural attractions and destinations continue to attract more and more visitors to Illinois each year, which in turn directly drives the state’s economic growth.”
This 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.
Bolstered by a surge in leisure travel, the Illinois tourism industry generated nearly $31 billion in 2012 from domestic visitors alone, up 5 percent from last year’s record-breaking domestic travel expenditures of $29.5 billion. Preliminary data indicate that international visitor numbers are also on the rise. International numbers will be released later this summer.
“The tourism industry plays a vital role in growing Illinois’ economy, providing valuable jobs for residents and spurring business of all sizes,” Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Director Adam Pollet said.
State and local tax revenues from tourism totaled more than $2.3 billion in 2012, an increase of more than $124 million. State tax revenue rose 5.3 percent to $1.6 billion, while local tax revenue rose 6.6 percent to more than $699 million. Initial estimates indicate the Illinois travel industry workforce grew by 1.9 percent in 2012. Final figures will be released later this summer.
“We are always looking for innovative ways to share Illinois’ unique stories with the world and to encourage visitors to discover all that the state offers,” Illinois Office of Tourism Deputy Director Jen Hoelzle said. “Our efforts drive visitors to the people, places and experiences that make a trip to Illinois memorable.”