POSTED BY Illinois Governor's Conference on Travel & Tourism
Posted in News

CHICAGO – The state’s premier gathering of tourism industry professionals will gather in Chicago, February 26-28 at the Palmer House Hilton. The annual Illinois Governor’s Conference on Travel & Tourism unites state leaders, travel experts and special guests to share the latest innovative ideas for promoting travel.

Travel and tourism is an essential component of Illinois’ economy. Illinois welcomed more than 112 million visitors in 2016, generating nearly $38 billion in spending for the state’s economy.

“The tourism industry is a vital part of our state’s economy, not only providing revenue from our visitors, but supporting jobs and quality of life benefits for residents across the state,” said Cory Jobe, Director of the Illinois Office of Tourism.

The Governor’s Conference provides an opportunity for professionals of all kinds – from small family restaurant owners to luxury hotel managers – to learn about the latest trends and best practices contributing to one of the fastest-growing industry sectors in Illinois.

Cory Jobe will present the annual State of the State Tourism Address on Wednesday, February 28, at 10:30 a.m. He will reflect on the success of Illinois Tourism’s marketing initiatives and partnerships throughout the past year, as well as offer a look ahead to new programs being unveiled in 2018, including special initiatives to celebrate the state’s Bicentennial this year.

Conference highlights and presentations include:

  • TRAVEL TREND REPORT WITH BRAND USA, Carroll Rheem, Brand USA VP of Research

Opening keynote session with travel industry expert Carroll Rheem, Brand USA’s VP of Research & Analytics. Rheem will report on the latest tourism industry trends, how to reach international travelers in 2018 and what’s on the horizon for destination marketing.

Tuesday, Feb. 27, 9:30-10:30 a.m.

  • CRISIS MANAGEMENT & TOURISM SECURITY, Dr. Peter E. Tarlow, Tourism Industry Expert

Dr. Tarlow is a world-renowned speaker and expert specializing in the impact of crime and terrorism on the tourism industry, event and tourism risk management and tourism/economic development. Tuesday, Feb. 27, 1:15-2:15 p.m.

  • KEEP CALM AND BRING A CARRY ON, Anirban Basu, Economist

Acclaimed economist Anirban Basu shares insights on how travel and tourism will impact the economy in 2018, including the latest statistics and travel trends. Monday, Feb. 26, 2-3 p.m.


First Lady Diana Rauner will make her Governor’s Conference debut with a presentation on the Illinois Governor’s Mansion renovation and the effort to raise $15 million to complete the project. The renovation is supported solely through private funds, raised by the Illinois Governor’s Mansion Association, chaired by the Illinois First Lady.

Tuesday, Feb. 27, 9-9:15 a.m.

  • THE EVOLUTION OF DIGITAL STORYTELLING, Cat Jordan, Travelzoo VP of Communications

Travelzoo Head of Communications, Cat Jordan, brings her expertise and shares the latest digital tools and best practices to inspire travelers in 2018 – from Facebook Live, to influencers, to the email marketing renaissance. Tuesday, Feb. 27, 4-5 p.m.


Illinois Excellence in Tourism Awards dinner will honor and celebrate the most innovative tourism marketing initiatives throughout the state, including Best of Show. Monday, Feb. 26, 7-9:30 p.m.

For a complete conference schedule and full list of speakers at this year’s Illinois Governor’s Conference on Travel and Tourism, visit our Schedule page.