The Illinois Office of Tourism released the 2022 economic impact numbers for the State of Illinois late last month as well as each county’s share of that growth. Illinois reached $44 billion in tourism revenue and welcomed over 111 million visitors. Hotel revenues for the state exceeded pre-pandemic records.
While Stephenson County isn’t the largest player in the state’s tourism scheme, we have increased our share of that tourism growth, as well. In 2022, visitors spent $50.2 million in Stephenson County – a 9.3 percent increase over 2021. This follows a 13 percent increase in revenue from 2020 to 2021.
Even more significant is the 2022 revenue of $50.2 million exceeds pre-pandemic records in Stephenson County of $48.2 million in 2019. The total revenue figures include hotel spending, food and beverage, recreation, retail and transportation dollars received from visitors who live 50+ miles from Stephenson County.
Additionally, directly and indirectly, tourism services employ over 500 people in Stephenson County for a total labor income of $20 million.
What does this mean?
1. Whether people are traveling to Stephenson County for leisure, business, or to visit for special occasions with family and friends, our area is attracting attention and getting visitors to stay, dine, shop, explore, and fill up their gas tanks. Visitors ARE coming and they are looking to our communities (both business and residential) to continue to expand our efforts to welcome them and support their stay with amenities and services.
2.Tourism has a direct result on the economy of Freeport and Stephenson County. The tourism industry supports our small businesses, enhances the quality of life for our residents, attracts “new” money to our county, and introduces our beautiful region to thousands of fresh faces each year.
3. Tourism enhances the development efforts of our cities and county with unique economic solutions.
Congratulations and thank you to the amazing, hardworking people in the tourism industry – hotels, restaurants, retailers, attractions, and events. Your efforts to be the best are noticed and the reason this economic achievement is possible.