EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a monthly column provided by the Alton Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau that discusses tourism events on the horizon.
The lush green colors of summer are quickly fading to the awesome hues of autumn greatness.
The leaves are not the only thing coming up so green for tourism. Tourism also brings the green of cash flowing for our communities. The summer months of June and July combined are the top money-making months of the year for our businesses and communities through tourism.
In fact, we recently celebrated the past year of green tourism and its cash from the numbers released from the state of Illinois a few weeks ago. Our region, Madison, Jersey and Calhoun counties in Illinois, accounted for an amazing $456.29 million in spending by our visitors, an increase of $11 million over 2014. The region received local tax receipts of $12.18 million from visitor spending in 2015 compared to $11.71 million in 2014. That’s some serious greening up of our community.
But we all know it is about more than just the cold hard cash of tourism. After all, our region is built upon a sustainable green nature-based tourism model. Thanks largely to our competitive advantage of the region, the great rivers of the Illinois, Missouri and Mississippi truly shape this unique landscape that makes this place such an incredible destination in the Midwest.
Our growing number of nature-based and outdoor recreation activities continue to lure visitors to us and turn the green of nature into the sustainable support for our communities. While the Sam Vadalabene Bike Trail along the Great River Road was a first in outdoor recreation for the entire St. Louis region in the 1970s, this destination has diversified and continues to look at new ways to experience Mother Nature. In fact, there are even talks of a new outfitter coming to the region to supply regular kayaking and canoeing opportunities. Check out the nature-based opportunities at VisitAlton.com.
It’s truly amazing to think how far we have come as a region and society for the greening up of our region. I can remember a time where recycling was not a way of life here at the CVB and a time where energy consumption was not important or water conservation. But all of that has become mainstream now. Even the new hotels being built are extremely energy-efficient and eco-friendly. Can we continue to do more? Absolutely, and we will as a region.
So the story for today is that we have two respects for the greening of tourism: loving our nature-based destination and promoting for the financial success of our communities and business owners. Despite what Kermit the Frog always said, we’re finding it rather easy to be green these days!
Stawar is president and CEO of the CVB, which works for the vested interests of hospitality partners in Madison, Jersey and Calhoun counties.