Tourism proves a cornerstone of commerce in Rock Island County
Rock Island County welcomed a lot of visitors in 2016, as did the entire state.
Data from the Illinois Office of Tourism show total tourist expenditures hitting $37.9 billion in Illinois and $219.2 million in the county, according to the Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau (QCCVB).
The 2016 figures represent a 17.7 percent increase over the total international and domestic travel expenditures in Illinois in 2015, or $571 million. The state added 10,000 jobs in the tourism sector over the course of the year, as well.
In Rock Island County, total travel expenditures were up 3 percent between 2015 and 2016, equal to a boost of $4.2 million in local tax revenue. The county accounted for 1,700 of the new tourism jobs.
“The Quad Cities has a lot to be proud of, and we have an exciting future ahead as a popular destination for people looking for getaways and vacations,” Joe Taylor, president and CEO of QCCVB, said. “Whether visitors are coming to our area for a getaway, sports tournament, group tour or convention, their dollars have a huge impact on the local economy. Overnight stays keep over 50 Quad Cities hotels in business, which in turn employ thousands of people and generate hotel/motel tax collections and property taxes for each of our cities.”
According to the QCCVB, tourism in Rock Island county is expected to increase with the opening of two hotels: The Current Iowa in downtown Davenport and The Element Hotel, which is attached to an Amtrak rail station in development. County visitors are also expected to turn out for the upcoming opening of the Bix Beiderbecke Museum & Archives at the River Music Experience.The Illinois Office of Tourism estimates that each dollar of investment in the tourism sector brings in $9 in economic impact.
“Visitors spend money at our stores, attractions, restaurants and entertainment venues," Taylor said. "They buy tickets to our festivals, plays and concerts. They also bring meetings/conventions and sports tournaments to fill our convention centers and sports facilities. Tourism is all about economic development. Tourism brings new money and businesses into our area and generates jobs for the people that live in this community.”
Illinois tourism is also doing better than the country as a whole in one key area: the length of stay per visitor. According to the data, stays are increasing at a faster rate in Illinois than in the rest of the county – a 3 percent increase in 2016 compared with a national average of 2.4 percent.
“One of the beautiful things about Illinois is the variety of experiences you can enjoy across the state – whether you’re looking for family-friendly activities, outdoor adventure, delicious food or an amazing road trip,” Cory Jobe, director of the Illinois Office of Tourism, said. “By bringing new money to our stores, hotels and attractions, visitors have the power to create a tangible economic impact on our communities. Our success as a state depends on each county doing their part to promote the diverse ways visitors can experience their amazing moments in Illinois.”