EDITOR’S NOTE: This monthly column provided by the Alton Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau discusses tourism events on the horizon.
This is the time of year that we take a sharp look into our destination as a whole. This week, we met with several stakeholders, land managers, cities, counties and more to discuss the successes and realities of the past and the outlook for the future. We annually update our Tourism Vision Plan, which serves as a road map for current day tourism assets and the potential for some in the future. We look at things like arts and culture, nature-based tourism, heritage and more. The goal for this entire process is to raise awareness within the industry and align potential strategic priorities with groups to offer a more successful end tourism product.
We look forward to digesting all of the great visions we heard this week and turning them into a road map for the future with which we can all be on board.
Shifting over to the final eagle report for the year, we have officially wrapped up the season. The last report we heard from the field was that six were spotted on the last tour of the season. Overall, the season had some shining moments. What I observed was that we may not have had the huge number of eagles, but the visibility of the numbers we did have this year was quite awesome. Clusters of eagles perched almost daily at the Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary at the base of the Clark Bridge, delighting our entire base of eagle-watching visitors. And, on the tours, eagles were good to spot. So overall we had a very productive eagle-watching season. We are generating the final financial impact, but I am confident that our 2017 numbers have surpassed last year’s numbers in regard to economic impact.
We’ve got some other great tourism programs on the horizon. Starting from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. Saturday, March 11, 15 Alton bars and restaurants are going green for St. Pat’s Day with the Alton St. Pat’s fest with venues from Johnson’s Corner to Argosy to the new Bottle and Barrel on Broadway. Check out the full details at AltonStPats.com.
As we look a bit ahead, mark your calendars for Wednesday, March 22, for a Dine Out for Gordon Moore Park to support some much-needed renovations to the park and the new all-inclusive playground being installed this summer. To date, we have seven participating restaurants that have agreed to give back 10 percent of their sales to the parks on this day. The restaurants include High Flyers Grille, Bluff City Grill, Tony’s Restaurant, Old Bakery Beer Company, Gentelin’s on Broadway, Spectators Bar and Grill in Bowl Haven and Argosy Casino. Please eat lunch and dinner out on March 22 to support our Gordon Moore Park. Stay tuned for additional restaurants at VisitAlton.com/GordonMoore.
And, finally, you will not want to miss the second annual Alton Craft Beer Week on April 22-29. Details are just coming together, but please mark your calendar for a kickoff event on April 22 at the Alton Amphitheater, Riverside Bites and Brews. This food and beer event will be like no other and kick off our annual Craft Beer Week. Stay up to date on the weeklong list of activities at AltonCraftBeerWeek.com.
Enjoy all of the March madness in the weeks ahead and indeed our tourism future will be bright!
Stawar is president and CEO of the CVB, which works for the vested interests of hospitality partners in Madison, Jersey and Calhoun counties.