EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a monthly column provided by the Alton Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau that discusses the impact of the tourism industry and its outlook.
The ides of March are well past us now, and the buds of spring are upon us. It is now time for us to reap in the benefits of good-weather tourism. We are a perfect winter eagle-watching getaway and now situated for the coming summer season. Get ready for some fun!
At the CVB this week, we are attending trade shows to bring more business to our communities. We are attending a sports conference that we hope to find that perfect new tournament to come back to our communities, bringing lots of players and families. We are also meeting with international journalists this coming week in Chicago to tell our story of why this “Meeting of the Great Rivers” is a true treasure for the entire world to celebrate. We are also meeting with international travel buyers looking for the perfect American Getaway for those that have already been to the big destinations, like Vegas, Disney and New York. In fact, we will be bringing a bus of 36 people back from the conference to experience our destination for two days. Also coming up this month, we are partnering with St. Louis on the Midwest Travel Writers Association and hosting an exhibit as part of the event. April will be filled with many opportunities to sell our place to influential information sources. It’s “game on” for us now.
On the visitor experience front, we have just announced our multiple offerings of river cruises sponsored by the Alton CVB. We have a great mix of themed cruises ranging from birding to ice cream this month aboard the Hakuna Matata. Then we have the true paddlewheeler experience available aboard the Spirit of Peoria in Alton and Grafton. The city and mayor of Alton also has been working with the American Queens that now have multiple stops planned in Alton this summer. The ports of Alton and Grafton are sure to be abuzz with boaters, passengers and lots of good times. In addition to experiences by boat, the CVB has a full schedule of Historic Alton Tours, Mansion Tours and Underground Railroad Tours. These are all aboard our new VisitAlton Shuttles donated by Argosy Casino Alton and fueled by Phillips 66 Wood River Refinery. Check out the tours at www.VisitAlton.com/Shuttle.
We are also gearing up for the summer season with tools visitors will need. We have completed an update of our Downtown Alton maps, now in a tear-off pad version. We are finishing up our regional, Grafton and Homer Adams Parkway maps as well. The summer guide is being compiled and the spring guide is ready for visitors in market. A special spring invitation was mailed to our database of more than 18,000 frequent travelers to the region. Be sure you take the time to enjoy our destination this month. Check out the many great new additions and ways to experience our region at www.VisitAlton.com.
Brett 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.