SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois set another record for tourism before the coronavirus pandemic essentially shut down normal life around the world, state officials said.
The Illinois Office of Tourism Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity announced Friday that the state welcomed 120 million visitors in 2019. That was the ninth consecutive year that Illinois saw tourism growth.READ MORE: Chicago Police Union President Urges Aldermen To Repeal Mayor's Vaccine Mandate For City Workers, Judge Denies Request To Extend Order Barring Comments Urging CPD Officers To Defy Reporting Rules
Officials noted that COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, has devastated the tourism industry and has shuttered schools, businesses and required people to stay at home for periods.
“Pre-COVID-19, Illinois offered one of the top destinations for travel in the country, supporting thousands of jobs and economic growth for our communities,” said Michael Negron, acting director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, which houses the tourism office.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Most Locations To Remain Dry Overnight
The U.S. Travel Association estimates that tourists spent $43.1 billion in Illinois last year. That was a 3% increase over the prior year.
The tourism office said the money directly supported 344,100 jobs, which is up 1,800 from 2018. It generated $2.5 billion in state sales tax revenue. That’s up nearly 8% over a year earlier.
Negron predicted that when the threat from COVID-19 has abated, the 2019 tourism numbers prove Illinois can rebound.MORE NEWS: Two Blocks Of Oakley Avenue In Gage Park Have Been Crumbling For Years, And Frustrated Neighbors Are Finally Getting Results
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