EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a monthly column provided by the Alton Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau that discusses the tourism events on the horizon.
It’s that time of year for the nation to turn the spotlight on the importance of travel and tourism to our economies.
The U.S. Travel Association sponsors a campaign we embrace regionally to celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week (#NTTW2016). The Alton Regional CVB proudly represents the tourism interests of Madison, Jersey and Calhoun counties in Illinois that generated more than $443 million in spending by our visitors to these counties last year.
Earlier this week, Argosy Casino Alton and the CVB hosted a Rally 4 Tourism where nearly 250 tourism industry stakeholders gathered to share the excitement and momentum of our growing industry. We had a lot of fun highlighting the coming summer season, with special emcee radio personality Guy Phillips. Your CVB had some fun with it also being May 4th, Star Wars Day. But one of my favorite points of the day was brought up by our Illinois Office of Tourism Director Cory Jobe as he referenced the U.S. Travel Association’s PROJECT: Time Off campaign.
The concept of this campaign is simple: to get Americans to use their earned vacation days. Sounds easy, but did you know that Americans leave 169 million vacation days on the table each and every year? If Americans were to use all of their allotted vacation days, it would deliver a $160 billion jolt to the U.S. economy. It would also create 1.2 million new American jobs and generate $21 billion in federal, state and local tax revenues. Travel is a major economic force for America!
To bring increased tourism spending back to Madison, Jersey and Calhoun counties, we work hard to implement new strategies and campaigns aimed to increase those tourism expenditures in our markets. We’ve got some new things up our sleeves with some new live webisodes on our region, kicking off at 12:30 p.m. May 18 at www.VisitAlton.com/Webisodes. We’re also finalizing the launch of a new summer piece that tells our story more and encourages travel through a direct mail campaign. In addition, our digital strategies continue to build our story and case for visitors to pack their bags and head our way.
And we can affirmatively say things are about to get better in our region. The inventory of new rooms and amenities in our market continues to grow. We are adding the Hampton Inn and Suites in June. The Comfort Inn has just gone through major room upgrades, including the addition of four completely new rooms to increase their inventory. Also, the Atrium Hotel and Conference Center is just about complete with total room renovations and banquet rooms. In addition, the restaurant is under full rehab and will be rebranded as the Great Rivers Tap Room in the very near future. And after the busy summer season, the lobby will be the final piece to totally reinvent a new brand on this property. With more places to stay, we’ve got a lot more potential to support our local businesses with that exciting vibe brought from even more people experiencing the wonders of our destination with us all.
Bottom line — it is going to be a great summer for us all as we awaken the force of our travel industry. Get out there and celebrate our place and follow the conversations of travel on VisitAlton.com.
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.