Will County ranks fourth in travel spending
BY BOB OKON email@example.com July 9, 2013 8:56PM
Updated: August 11, 2013 6:47AM
Will County ranked fourth highest in travel spending among Illinois counties, according to numbers put out by the state this week.
The numbers show that travelers in 2012 spent $602 million in Will County, generated nearly $14 million in local tax revenue and contributed to the creation of 6,240 jobs and a payroll of $153 million.
The only counties with higher travel spending were Cook, Lake and DuPage, all of which were much higher than Will. The biggest travel dollars were spent in the Chicago metropolitan region, which appeared to benefit Will County.
The travel spending figures, attributed to the U.S. Travel Association, do not necessarily reflect money spent going to tourist destinations. The biggest numbers are linked to the state’s largest cities — taking in business trips, visits to relatives, weddings and any kind of travel associated with staying at a hotel or motel.
The numbers are calculated according to a standard formula that estimates how much hotel and motel guests typically spend on restaurants, attractions and any other spending associated with travel, according to state tourism officials.
Still, the numbers do show the impact of travel spending in Will County, said Robert Navarro, chief executive of the Heritage Corridor Convention & Visitors Bureau, which promotes tourism in Will, Grundy, LaSalle and Putnam counties.
“We’re definitely a player in the region when it comes to the economic impact of travel and tourism,” Navarro said. “People should take note that we need to continue to develop the destinations. And we need to continue to develop reasons for people to stop, whether it’s a restaurant or a shopping area or a marker designating Route 66.”
Jan Hoelzle, Illinois’ deputy director of tourism, will play up the Route 66 attraction Friday when she rides into the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet with motorcyclists taking the historic highway from Countryside.
Joliet will be the last stop in a week-long tour by state officials promoting tourism in Illinois and drawing attention to the travel statistics released this week.
Navarro said Will County attracts travel dollars because of destinations such as Chicagoland Speedway, a major auto race track, but also because of interstate highways passing through the area and the size of the county.
The top 10 counties in travel spending are Cook, $20.3 million; DuPage, $2.2 million; Lake, $1.2 million; Will, $602,000; St. Claire (near St. Louis), $447,000; Kane, $434,000; Sangamon (includes Springfield), $388,000; McLean (includes Bloomington-Normal), $348,000; Madison (near St. Louis), $344,000; and Winnebago (includes Rockford), $326,000.