The tourism industry continued to grow at a steady pace throughout Madison, Jersey and Calhoun counties in 2015, matching growth across Illinois, according to early reports from the Illinois Department of Commerce’s Office of Tourism.
In 2015, visitors to the three counties spent $456.29 million, 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.
The state reported traveler spending at $37 billion, an increase of 2.6 percent over the same period in 2014. In addition, the Illinois tourism industry created approximately 10,000 new jobs in 2015, an increase of 3.5 percent.
Job growth climbed slightly in the region. While job numbers remained stable in Calhoun and Jersey counties, Madison County saw an uptick in new jobs. According to the Illinois Department of Employment Security, Madison County’s unemployment rate dropped from 6 percent to 5.9 percent from June 2015 to June 2016.
“These numbers are very encouraging and show how very important tourism is to the local economy,” Brett Stawar, President and CEO of the Alton Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau said. “Our regional tourism industry is vital to the continued economic growth of our region.”
The economic impact numbers, provided by the U.S. Travel Association, are preliminary numbers only. Final visitor statistics will be available later this year.