Southern Illinois highlighted during National Travel and Tourism Week
National Travel and Tourism Week is being commemorated this week.
Southern Illinois tourism bureaus are joining in the observance, which began May 1 and continues through May 7.
National Travel and Tourism Week spotlights the collective strength of the travel industry.
National Travel and Tourism Week, the annual celebration of the contributions of the U.S. travel industry, is spotlighting the critical role that travel will play in driving economic growth and building the path forward through the 2022 theme: “Future of Travel.”
The theme highlights how the travel industry can restore the workforce, help communities recover, foster sustainability, usher in new innovations and reconnect travelers in the United States and around the world.
In Southern Illinois, several local bureaus that cover more than 30 counties have combined forces during the pandemic to help promote the entire region, not just one specific county or community.
Leaders from the Southernmost Illinois Tourism Bureau, Visit Effingham, visitSI, ILLINOISouth Tourism and a handful of other tourism bureaus are creating different ways to work together.
The group has created different video and written content to promote the region. They are working on other initiatives as well.
“The future of travel in Southern Illinois is driven by all of us working together to showcase the region,” Southernmost Illinois Tourism Bureau director Carol Hoffman said in a news release.
“A brighter future starts today, in our own backyards, and National Travel and Tourism Week emphasizes that.”
The Southernmost Illinois Tourism Bureau serves Union County and neighboring counties.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the State of Illinois saw $41.7 billion in tourism expenditures including gas, hotels, food and beverage.
Southern Illinois has a unique advantage to capitalize on increased spending by tourists this year with the NASCAR Cup Series Race which is planned in early June in Madison.
“We are very fortunate to have several major interstates travel through this region of Southern Illinois,” ILLINOISouth Tourism communications director Andy Waterman said.
“There will be thousands of people using those thoroughfares to get to World Wide Technology Raceway in June, and it’s important to let them know that there is so much to experience in this area of the state, aside from the race,” Waterman said.
“Those same interstates they are driving on connect the Cross of the Crossroads in Effingham to the Shawnee National Forest, and Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge in Williamson County, to twelve of the world’s largest items in Casey,” Waterman adds.
During National Travel and Tourism Week, representatives from some of the area tourism bureaus plan to be out and about at different travel information centers along the interstates chatting with folks about tourism in the region.
Other bureaus are welcoming travelers in other ways.
“Our many wonderful local businesses are happy to be able to welcome visitors to the area for the 2022 travel season,” visitSI executive director Ashlee Spiller said.
Spiller said that visits to Williamson County continue to grow “and that is attributed to the wonderful experiences that our destination partners are able to curate. We invite you to discover all the area has to offer, not only during National Travel and Tourism Week, but throughout the year.”