Illinois, Aurora Area Tourism Up — Prior To COVID-19

Illinois, Aurora Area Tourism Up — Prior To COVID-19

Shawnee National Forest is a popular Illinois tourist destination.

Prior to the impact of COVID-19 and record losses in the industry, Illinois achieved its ninth consecutive year of record tourism growth in 2019.

According to new data released by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the Illinois Office of Tourism, Illinois welcomed a record 120 million visitors last year, and a record economic boost for the state. In 2019, visitors spent nearly $43.1 billion, a $1.3 billion increase over the prior year, according to the U.S. Travel Association.

These visitor expenditures directly supported more than 344,100 jobs in the Illinois travel and tourism industry, an increase of 1,800 jobs from 2018. Travel also generated nearly $2.5 billion in state tax revenue, an increase of 7.7%.

State officials say last year’s record-breaking tourism levels will prepare the state to make a healthy comeback once the tourism industry resumes normal activity.

“The 2019 tourism numbers demonstrate what we already know — that pre-COVID-19, Illinois offered one of the top destinations for travel in the country, supporting thousands of jobs and economic growth for our communities,” said DCEO Acting Director Michael Negron. “Unfortunately, like many industries, tourism looks much different today than it did last year.”

Negron said the state is committed to a data-driven plan allowing a gradual reopening of key segments of the economy.

St. Charles’ Scarecrow Fest will be pared down to the Scarecrow Stroll this year.

According to DK Shifflet, domestic visitation to Illinois in 2019 increased by 5.1%, reaching 120.4 million visitors, well above the national growth rate of 2%. Visitation to the city of Chicago increased by 4.5%, and downstate travel increased by 5.6%, fueled by a strong leisure tourism increase of 6%.

DCEO, which operates the Office of Illinois Tourism, has played a key role in working with public health officials to develop safety guidelines permitting some businesses and industries to reopen by implementing strategies to help reduce risk and protect the public as well as their employees.

While tourism has seen a marked impact in Illinois and across the country, state officials are taking steps to help residents who choose to travel to do so safely.

The Illinois Department of Public Health released new guidance to help residents take proper precautions when traveling. The new COVID-19 travel map helps inform residents of potential risks associated with traveling during the pandemic. The map indicates countries and U.S. states with increased risk of COVID-19 based on case rates.

“Last year’s numbers illustrate just how impactful tourism is for boosting the state’s economy,” said Karla Flannery, Deputy Director of the Illinois Office of Tourism. “While it’s unrealistic to expect the same results in 2020, we are looking forward to safely welcoming travelers back to Illinois and rebuilding our industry – while encouraging Illinois residents to use public health precautions in resuming local travel to any one of our iconic attractions found right here at home.”

The Illinois Office of Tourism continues to work with health officials to provide guidance for residents as well as local tourism partners, including museums, amusement parks and other tourist destinations. Illinois remains under Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois guidelines. For more information on current health safety guidelines, click here.

For more information about travelling in Illinois, visit

SOURCE: Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity news release

2019 A Record Year for Aurora Area Tourism

Chicago Blues bandleader Lurrie Bell at a 2019 concert at The Venue in Aurora Downtown (AACVB file)

Tourism is a $213 million industry in the Aurora Area of Illinois.

Visitor spending on lodging, gas, dining, and other travel related expenditures in the region increased 5.7% in 2019, representing the fifth consecutive year of growth for this and other measures reported by the U.S. Travel Association and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

Tourism related spending also led to a 7% increase in local tax receipts collected in the portions of Kane, Kendall, and DuPage Counties serviced by the Aurora Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, as well as a 10.8% increase in state tax receipts.

“The 2019 economic data confirms the important impact of travel and tourism to the ten-community region that makes up the service area of the Aurora Area Convention & Visitors Bureau,” said Cort Carlson, executive director of the Aurora Area CVB.

“Continued growth in the market attests to the development of the region as a viable visitor destination, and its great appeal to travelers,” Carlson said. “Whether it is for a family or couples’ escape, theatre or shopping getaway, athletic competition, group tour or business meeting, the Aurora Area continues to be a strong Midwest travel location.”

These numbers are supported by the Aurora Area CVB’s regional lodging reports which reflect an increase in hotel occupancy of 5.8% in 2019. Revenue per available room (RevPAR) was up 3.9% in the same period.

“The staff and board of directors of the Aurora Area CVB are honored to work on behalf of our partners in hospitality,” Carlson said. “Tourism drives economic growth to our region by creating jobs, generating local tax revenues, and helping to improve quality of life for the residents of our communities.”

Fast Facts

2019 Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosee Coaches Association (IWLCA) Midwest Cup at Stuart Sports Complex (AACVB File)

Fast facts about Aurora Area Tourism:
  • Tourism expenditures grew 5.7% in 2019, totaling over $213 million spent by visitors to the region.
  • Aurora Area tourism supports over 1,600 jobs.
  • Tourism to the Aurora Area contributed $4.15 million to local taxing bodies.

The Aurora Area Go Guide, the official visitors publication for the region, is available in print and online at

SOURCE: Aurora Area Convention and Visitors Bureau news release