2011 Illinois Governor’s Conference Showcases State Tourism Industry’s Evolution Through Innovation

CHICAGO–(ENEWSPF)–March 22, 2011.  More than 400 of the tourism industry’s leading professionals attended the 2011 Illinois Governor’s Conference of Tourism, March 16-18 at the Donald E. Stephen Convention Center in Rosemont.  The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Office of Tourism (DCEO/IOT) and the Illinois Council of Convention and Visitors Bureaus (ICCVB) together used this year’s theme of “Evolution Through Innovation” as a banner for demonstrating how the thriving tourism industry continues to be a key economic driver for the state.

With one of the best lineups of roundtables and presentations to date, attendees left armed with the latest information and key insights in enhancing travel to and around Illinois.  State Travel Director Jan Kostner again delivered the annual State of the State of Tourism Address, focusing on the industry’s “five truths” that covered everything from the importance of leisure travel to the state, collaboration between partners, and the increased importance of innovation in marketing.  Illustrating how important the industry was to Illinois’ economic recovery, Kostner released statewide economic impact data for 2009(the most recent available), which shows solid results for Illinois’ travel industry, including:

– In 2009, Illinois welcomed more than 82 million domestic and international visitors, spending a total of more than $27 billion.
– Leisure travelers spent on average $106 per person, per day for a total of $74 million daily in Illinois businesses. 
– The economic impact of tourism directly generated 288,700 jobs within Illinois in 2009, with one in 10 jobs in Illinois directly or indirectly supported by travel expenditures.
– Travel-related spending accounted for more than $5.1 billion in federal, state and local tax revenues in 2009. The additional revenue saves an average Illinois household over $1,000 in taxes each year.
– Twenty of Illinois’ 102 counties received over $100 million in domestic traveler expenditures in 2009.
– Nearly 1.7 million overseas visitors traveled to Illinois in 2009 and spent $2 billion, resulting in Illinois being ranked the seventh most popular state for international travelers. 
– Also included were highlights from the state’s upcoming Spring/Summer 2011 advertising campaign, which will be integrated across TV, radio, the Web and social media and will highlight some of the state’s destinations and attractions.
– Working closely with Midwest Living and the Meredith Corporation, IOT will be offering consumers “The Magnificent Getaway Giveaway,” a Facebook campaign allowing people a chance to interact with the strong Illinois brand and win amazing trips across the Land of Lincoln.

A full transcript of the 2011 State of the State of Tourism Address can be found at www.ilgovconference.com.

Illinois Excellence in Tourism Award Winners

The 2011 Illinois Governor’s Conference on Tourism concluded by celebrating the groundbreaking work of industry innovators with the Governor’s Illinois Excellence in Tourism Awards.  Emmy award-winning journalist and NBC5 Chicago co-anchor Zoraida Sambolin emceed the awards luncheon. The Illinois Excellence in Tourism Awards honor those destinations, attractions, and events leading the way for the state’s successes last year.  Designed locally by Dolphin Creative Promotions of Skokie, Ill., awards are presented in 12 categories, four of which recognize two budget categories – Division A with total marketing and operational budgets of $700,000 and above; and Division B with budgets under $700,000. The entries were judged by a panel of marketing and tourism professionals on clarity of message, creativity, originality and the project’s overall success.

2011 Governor’s Awards Recipients

Best of Show: John Hancock Observatory, Skating in the Sky Brand and Best Web site

Best Leisure Collateral: Quincy Convention Bureau, Inside Guide

Best Sales Collateral: Kankakee County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Barn Quilt Cookbook

Best Electronic Marketing: KeyLime Cove, New TV Commercial “Short Drive, Big Dreams”

Best Social Media Marketing: Chicago Office of Tourism, Explore Chicago Foursquare Partnership

Best Media/Public Relations Initiative: John Hancock Observatory, Skating in the Sky Media Previews and Launch

Best Cooperative Partnership: John Hancock Observatory, Room with a View Plus a Dinosaur, Too Tour Operator Package

Best Web site
Division A: John Hancock Observatory, www.hancockobservatory.com
Division B: Alton Regional Convention & Tourism Bureau, www.visitalton.com

Best Visitors Publication
Division A: Chicago Office of Tourism, “Explore Chicago: Eat, Play, Love our Neighborhoods”
Division B: Aurora Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, Aurora Area Visitors Guide 2010

Best Event or Festival
Division A: Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, Pepsi Tall Ships Chicago 2010
Division B: Champaign Country Convention & Visitors Bureau, 27th Mile Celebrate Victory Bash

Best Tourism Marketing Campaign
Division A: Chicago Office of Tourism, “Explore Chicago: Eat, Play, Love our Neighborhoods,” Summer 2010
Division B: Champaign Country Convention & Visitors Bureau, New FIT Agricultural Tour Option in Illinois – a joint partnership

Source: illiniois.gov