TRIVIA QUESTION: Before the founding of Granite City in 1896 by Frederick and William Niedringhaus, what was the name of the farming community in that area?
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a monthly column provided by the Alton Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau that discusses the impact of tourism on our region.
Illinois legislators and the governor are considering a proposal that would slash funding to the tourism industry. If approved, this loss of funding would greatly hurt the local tourism industry. Just in the Alton region alone, tourists spent a minimum of $23 million. Tourists visit our attractions, eat in our restaurants, purchase items in our shops and stay overnight in our hotels and other lodging properties.
Those people were drawn here in many ways — from incentives to conventions and trade shows, to advertising and marketing in the U.S. and across the world, to partnerships with local organizations.
Using only a small portion of hotel tax revenue — and not the tax revenue generated from Illinois residents — the state has reinvested the money spent by visitors. Since the 1980s, Illinois has been among the nation’s leaders in innovative sales and marketing efforts that have drawn more visitors to the state.
Illinois was ahead of its time 30 years ago when it recognized the need to reinvest a portion of visitor spending to continue feeding this economic engine. Today there are very tough choices facing Illinois regarding next year’s budget. But one easy choice that promises proven reward over risk is to continue the current funding for the visitor industry, and the billions that it will mean for the bottom line. Please tell your local and state representatives that tourism funding is important and the Alton Regional CVB is vital to this region’s growth and success.
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.