Economic Impact of Tourism in Illinois

The Illinois Governor’s Conference on Travel & Tourism is an annual reminder of the economic impact of tourism for Illinois. Illinois’ tourism and hospitality industry is a major contributor to the state’s economy, employing nearly 400,000 people statewide in 2021.

The efforts of the Illinois Office of Tourism continue to drive our state’s recovery and position Illinois for future growth and success by stimulating our economy, boosting tax revenues, and putting people back to work.

Travelers can have a huge economic impact. They dine in our world-class local restaurants, stay in our charming hotels and bed and breakfasts, and support our unique small businesses — which are truly the backbone of our economy.

In 2019, prior to the pandemic, Illinois tourism was in full growth mode. The state welcomed a record 120 million visitors, who spent nearly $43.1 billion, which was a $1.3 billion increase over the prior year, according to the U.S. Travel Association.

Visitor expenditures that year generated nearly $2.5 billion in state tax revenue, an increase of 7.7 percent over the prior year. Those expenditures saved the average Illinois household over $1,300 in taxes per year prior to the pandemic.

The pandemic created enormous challenges for the tourism industry. But the recovery has been strong. And the future of Illinois tourism is bright.

To get an idea of the impact, The Illinois Office of Tourism’s 2021 road trip-focused tourism campaign, Time For Me To Drive, generated 750 thousand incremental trips, resulting in a visitor spend of more than 212 million dollars.

In terms of ROI, that translates to 43 dollars in visitor spending for every campaign dollar spent, and five dollars in tax revenue for every campaign dollar spent.

And, for the first time since the pandemic began, Illinois hotel tax collections recently exceeded those of the same pre-pandemic month. Hotel tax revenue for June 2022 jumped 9.7 percent over June 2019 collections.