CHICAGO – The 2018 Illinois Governor’s Conference on Travel & Tourism kicked off Monday, February 26, in Chicago with the Illinois Excellence in Tourism Awards ceremony at the Palmer House Hilton. The awards honored Illinois’ passionate travel and tourism marketing teams with the best marketing initiatives of 2017.
Travel and tourism professionals from around the country judged submissions in eight categories, ranging from best social media marketing to best event or festival, with one exceptional entry receiving best of show. Each category contained a Budget A for organizations with annual operating budgets of $500,000 and above, and Budget B for organizations with budgets under $500,000. Two special recipients also received the Friend of Tourism award from Director of the Illinois Office of Tourism, Cory Jobe, for their contributions to Illinois tourism.
Here are the 2018 Illinois Excellence in Tourism Award winners:
- Best of Show – Greater Galena Marketing, Halloween Parade & Festival.
The Best of Show award goes to the submission that received the highest overall score from the judge’s panel, going above and beyond to execute a fully comprehensive event, initiative or campaign.
- Best Social Media Marketing Budget A – Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, Tour De Roo Campaign
- Best Social Media Marketing Budget B – The Art Institute of Chicago
- Best Leisure Collateral Budget A – Greater Galena Marketing, eNewsletter
- Best Leisure Collateral Budget B – Carbondale Tourism, Total Solar Eclipse
- Best Cooperative Partnership Budget A – Kankakee County Convention & Vistors Bureau
- Best Cooperative Partnership Budget B – Greater Metropolis Convention & Visitors Bureau, Great American Solar Eclipse
- Best Branding Initiative Budget A – Visit Champaign County, The Faces of Travel
- Best Branding Initiative Budget B – Freeport All In
- Best Website Budget A – Kankakee County Convention & Visitors Bureau, VisitKankakeeCounty.com
- Best Website Budget B – Freeport All In, Freeport-all-in.com
- Best Visitors Publication Budget A – Alton Regional CVB, All Around Alton Travel Guide
- Best Visitors Publication Budget B – The Real Woodstock Visitors Guide
- Best Event or Festival Budget A – Greater Galena Marketing, Halloween Parade & Festival
- Best Event or Festival Budget B – City of Waterloo, Solar Eclipse Solarbration event
- Best Tourism Marketing Budget A – [TIE] Choose Chicago, “Home Is” campaign and Illinois Holocaust Museum, “Take a Stand Center” exhibit campaign
- Best Tourism Marketing Budget B – The Real Woodstock campaign
- Friend of Tourism Award Recipients
Gina Gemberling, Visit Springfield, Former Executive Director
Marc Gordon, Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association, President & CEO
Travel and tourism drives significant contributions to Illinois’ economy. In 2016, Illinois welcomed 112 million visitors, which generated more than $38 billion in travel expenditures for the state. The success of state tourism each year couldn’t be accomplished without help from hospitality and tourism partners and stakeholders across the state.
This year’s Illinois Excellence in Tourism program, Jazzed About Tourism, was presented by Travel Channel. The Illinois Governor’s Conference on Travel & Tourism is taking place in Chicago, February 26-28, at the Palmer House Hilton. The conference unites state leaders, travel experts and special guests to share the latest innovative ideas for promoting travel.