Tourism helping local economy, officials say
By Cindy Wojdyla Cain email@example.com May 10, 2012 9:20PM
Updated: June 12, 2012 8:10AM
JOLIET — The kids are getting out of school.
Temperatures are warming up (again). And work vacation schedules are being finalized.
It’s time to think about travel and tourism, said Bob Navarro, president and CEO of the Heritage Corridor Convention and Visitors Bureau. With high gas prices and a shaky economy, local travel and tourism continues to be an important option for vacationers, he added.
This week is National Travel and Tourism Week, as designated by the National Travel Association, so it’s a good time to toot tourism’s horn Navarro said.
The week celebrates, “The power of the people and the power of the people to travel,” he said.
Tourism provides cash to local coffers, he said. For instance, in 2010, Will County tax receipts from travel and tourism totaled $23.60 million from the state and $12.63 million in local tax receipts. In Grundy County, the numbers were $3.8 million and $970,000 million, respectively. (2011 numbers will be released in July.)
Also, local tourism gives people nice options if they want to stay closer to home, Navarro said.
The local summer festival scene really kicks off with the Gus Macker Basketball Tournament from June 2-3 in Morris.
“It brings not only teens to the area to play, but their friends and family to downtown Morris,” he said.
Another big summer kickoff event on that weekend will be the third annual Star Wars Day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 2 at the Joliet Public Library in downtown Joliet.
Navarro said the bureau set up a booth at the recent Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2) in Chicago and about 20,000 visited the booth, so there is a lot of interest in the event, Navarro said.
It’s all about having fun and supporting local economies, he said.
“We want the visitors to come into the community and shop and eat in the restaurants and buy gas,” he said.
Best of all is if they stay longer and spend a night or two in a hotel, he said.
The bureau is promoting local tourism by adding four new “I played in Joliet” summer commercials featuring: Celebrity Chef Paula Deen, the championship winning Slammers baseball team, the Official Blues Brothers Revue and celebrity impersonators.
The bureau just reopened its office in Bicentennial Park at 30 N. Bluff St., and it’s open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Visitor guides and “Sun and Fun 2012” event guides are available at the office and at other regional locations including the Grundy County Chamber of Commerce office.
A complete listing of upcoming events also can be found at the bureau’s website, heritagecorridorcvb.com. For more information, call 800-926-2262.