EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a monthly column provided by the Alton Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau that discusses tourism events on the horizon.
No one would have guessed that in early January 2016, we would be dealing with a massive flood cleanup ... the wettest year on record and an unseasonably warm winter. Add this all up and it is devastating to our tourism efforts.
While there are plenty of positives with resilient human spirit and new efforts, the water dampened our end to 2015 and beginning of 2016. We’ve been dealt a double whammy with an unseasonably warm November and December (and now January). The eagle migration is not happening as scheduled. We do have some eagles in the region, but at this point less than 100 have been spotted.
This year more than ever, the Alton Visitor Center can be your resource on a best bet to find our feathered friends in the region. We will keep regular counts and pockets of sightings for the visitors who come to our Eagle Meet and Greet from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Saturday in January. We will also guide visitors to use our mobile app and pinpoint their sighting on this technology-driven portal. We plan to offer the Eagle Watcher’s Sample Shuttle for $5 each person on Saturdays as well. And finally, we will be giving away eagle T-shirts to visitors who complete the eagle watcher’s card by stopping at five of our eagle hot spots. We owe a huge thanks to our eagle sponsors: Liberty Bank, Alton Memorial Hospital, Phillips 66 Wood River Refinery and Lewis and Clark Community College. All of this eagle information can be found at www.visitalton.com/eagles or by stopping in the Alton Visitor Center.
And don’t forget we have the exciting fifth Annual Alton Restaurant Week from Jan. 15 through 24. This year, we have 19 restaurants participating, with menus that will keep you satisfied and some incredible deals. Plan to devour your way through this destination, keeping up to date on menus and selections at www.altonrestaurantweek.com. Don’t forget to pick up your free commemorative glass for Alton Restaurant Week featuring the Miles Davis sculpture during with week by presenting your receipt from a participating restaurant at the Alton Visitor Center. Don’t delay; glasses are limited and may run out before Jan. 24.
Also, I would like to give a shout-out to Bobby Rickman at Alton High School for organizing the Atrium Hotel Great Rivers Shootout basketball tournament at Alton High School over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend. Thanks to his enthusiasm and organization, we will be host to this tournament with 10 teams, with some as far away as Colorado and Tennessee.
So, as we look forward to the rest of 2016, we hope to see more planned tourism growth. The brand new 2016 Meeting of the Great Rivers Visitor Guide is on the shelf at the Alton Visitor Center and distributed at rest areas, attractions, hotels, restaurants and more. Be sure to get your copy of the guide now and plan the rest of your year ahead!
Stawar is president and CEO of the CVB, which works for the vested interests of hospitality partners in northwestern Madison County and all of Jersey and Calhoun counties.