Someone asked me recently why the Greater Freeport Partnership was “bothering to reopen the Visitors Center” on Highway 20, since “no one is traveling anymore.” There is no doubt that, like so much else in our lives, tourism has changed over the last six months. But there is, in fact, still a vibrant and healthy tourism industry and we are working hard to make sure Freeport and Stephenson County are considered as people make plans.
In the last 30 days, 820 people stopped at the Visitors Center. Hotels have indicated that there is some increase of hotel reservations and stays. A visit to Krape Park, the Pecatonica River, and the Jane Addams Trail shows that there are lots of people enjoying our outdoor areas. People are going out, although where they go and what they are looking for has shifted.
Studies have shown that tourism leads to increased retail sales, increased service sales and, longer term, increased residential and economic growth. A survey commissioned by Meredith Media, the parent company of such well known magazines as People, Martha Stewart’s Living, Entertainment Weekly, and many others, indicate that 57% of respondents are looking to travel to small town areas for their next trip. 56% indicated they were looking for places with a distinct culture and charm and 67% were looking for family friendly destinations. Freeport and Stephenson County is a great destination for all of these requirements!
That is why, even in the revised 2020 landscape, we continue to promote Freeport and Stephenson County as a destination for those who are looking for a day trip, outdoor activities and more. We know the more people visit, the more they will see all that makes this area a great place to live, work, and play!