Southern Illinois Tourism Bureaus Celebrate The ‘Future Of Travel’

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National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW), the annual celebration of the contributions of the U.S. travel industry, will spotlight the critical role that travel will play in driving economic growth and building the path forward through the theme ‘Future of Travel’. This year’s theme elevates how the travel industry can restore the workforce, help communities recover, foster sustainability, usher in new innovations and reconnect travelers in the U.S. and around the world.

In Southern Illinois, several local bureaus that cover more than thirty counties have combined forces during the pandemic to help promote the entire region, not just one specific county or community. Leaders from Visit Effingham, Southernmost Illinois Tourism Bureau, 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, and they are currently 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”, stated Carol Hoffman, Director of Southernmost Illinois Tourism Bureau. “A brighter future starts today, in our own backyards, and National Travel and Tourism Week emphasizes that.” Hoffman continued.

Before the 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, thanks to the NASCAR Cup Series Race in Madison. “We are very fortunate to have several major interstates travel through this region of Southern Illinois,” explains Andy Waterman, Communications Director for ILLINOISouth Tourism. “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. 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 bureaus will be out and about at different Travel Information Centers along the interstates chatting with folks about tourism in the region. Other bureaus are welcoming folks in other ways. “Visit Effingham invites travelers and residents alike, to experience National Travel and Tourism Week with us, both on social media, as well as in-person at our tourism office,” says Jodi Thoele, Director of Tourism for the City of Effingham. “Come in and pick up tourism information for the Effingham area, as well as other Midwestern destinations, enter to win a giveaway, and receive a free souvenir for completing three out of seven of our #NTTW Challenges,” Thoele continues. Meanwhile, visitSI in Williamson County is equally as excited to celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week as well “Our many wonderful local businesses are happy to be able to welcome visitors to the area for the 2022 travel season,” says Ashlee Spiller, Executive Director for visitSI. “Visitation to Williamson County continues 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.”

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