The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

July 13, 2013

County tourism sees boost

BY JENNIFER BAILEY
Commercial-News

DANVILLE — The Danville Area Convention and Visitors’ Bureau announced Friday the results of the yearly economic impact study, prepared for the Illinois Office of Tourism by the U.S. Travel Association.

Spending by visitors in Danville/Vermilion County topped $78 million, up 3.2 percent from the previous year.

“The impact tourism has on the area’s economy is significant,” said Jeanie Cooke, executive director of the Danville Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, in a press release.

“We have seen an increase in every category,” she said.

Local payroll is up 2.7 percent at $13.58 million, and local tax receipts are up 4.7 percent at $1.78 million.

“Since 1984, tourism has provided a steady source of income,” Cooke said.

Vermilion County continues to rank in the top 25 percent of 102 Illinois counties.

Cooke said the return of investment in the industry, however, represents much more than money in the bank. It is first-time jobs and careers at all levels, it’s entrepreneurial spirit at its best, it’s capital investment and taxes, it’s quality of life, preservation, revitalization and sharing the celebration of our sense of place with others, according to Cooke.

“The U.S. Travel Industry study is done for each county in Illinois,” Cooke said in the press release. “It is the only independent study done yearly over an extended number of years using the same model, so we have a fair growth comparison and an excellent year-by-year benchmark. In 1991, visitor’s expenditures were $30.04 million. In 2012 they were $78.01 million,” Cooke said.

Mayor Scott Eisenhauer said the report is good news.

He said downtown is one of the tourism drawing points for the area.

Eisenhauer said he remains amazed at the number of bus trips and visitors still seeing the Walldogs murals, and visitors to the city continue to shop at the antique and unique stores in downtown and in other parts of the city.

The increased retailers and restaurants in the area also are bringing in more people, Eisenhauer added.

Events and locations that continue to help tourism are the National Junior College Athletic Association national tournament in March, the museums and parks, Danville Stadium and other attractions and historic sites.

The new Travel Industry Association study, when broken down by county, uses domestic travel only. Its model was not developed specifically for Illinois, but is a nationwide study, utilizing for each county, data from sources such as the U.S. Department of Commerce, Smith Travel Research, Illinois Department of Labor, Office of Employment Security, Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Labor Statistics and others to provide consistent reports regarding the economic impact of tourism.