Tourism up in DeKalb County, data shows

Bridge over the South Branch of the Kishwaukee River in Hopkins Park in DeKalb, IL on Thursday, May 13, 2021.

DeKALB – Travel and tourism are back in a big way in DeKalb County and throughout the state, the local tourism bureau announced, citing data recently released by the Illinois Office of Tourism.

DeKalb County generated a local economic impact of $123 million and contributed to an increase in visitor spending across Illinois in 2022, according to a news release from the DeKalb County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The boost in tourism contributed $2.8 million in local tax revenue while directly supporting 722 jobs in the tourism and hospitality industry, according to the latest data provided by Tourism Economics, a global tourism research firm that measured the number of visitors as well as their influence on Illinois’ economy during the 2022 calendar year.

“This data validates what the DCCVB has seen and heard from our attractions, hotels, restaurants and event hosts and planners – that people from across the state and beyond are experiencing DeKalb County in numbers that rival pre-pandemic figures,” Cortney Strohacker, the bureau’s executive director, said in a news release. “While challenges remain, particularly in the hospitality sector, we are encouraged that people are discovering or being reintroduced to the great attractions, businesses, venues and events that make our county a great place to live, learn, work and play.”

In July, Gov. JB Pritzker announced that Illinois had reached its highest-ever revenue figures in fiscal 2023 ($308 million), surpassing the pre-pandemic record in fiscal 2019. Illinois welcomed 111 million visitors last year, representing more than 14 million additional travelers over 2021, according to the release.

Illinois visitor spending surged to $44 billion in 2022 – $12 billion over calendar year 2021 and 97% of record 2019 levels, according to the release.

As a result of tourist spending and visits in 2022, the overall economic impact – which includes indirect and induced effects – amounted to $78 billion, a 30% increase from 2021 figures ($60 billion).

“Tourism is a key economic driver for our state, contributing to the growth of small businesses while generating jobs for our local communities,” Kristin Richards, director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, said in a news release. “Illinois has made unprecedented investments in travel and tourism, and we’re excited to build upon this record-breaking progress as we continue to promote Illinois and support the industry.”

DeKalb County’s government leadership also heralded local efforts growth, which shows a more than 10% increase in tourism spending in the county in 2022, according to the release.

“Tourism highlights all that DeKalb County offers, and at the same time brings in dollars from outside of our communities,” DeKalb County Administrator Brian Gregory said in a news release. “This [visitor spending] results in millions of dollars of local tax revenue that is used to provide services for our residents.”

Economic impact of domestic travel by county (2022), according to the DCCVB:

DeKalb County

Travel expenditures – $123.4 million (10.8% increase)

Local tax revenue – $2.8 million (3.7% increase)

Fast facts about Illinois tourism in 2022

  • Illinois welcomed 111 visitors in 2022, an increase of 14 million travelers from 2021.
  • Visitor spending resulted in $44 billion in 2022, an increase of $12 billion from 2021.
  • State and local tax revenue from visitor spending generated $4.2 billion.
  • Visitor spending supported 270,600 tourism-related jobs, an increase of 38,300 jobs from 2021.
  • Illinois reached its highest-ever hotel tax revenue in fiscal 2023 at $308 million.

Annual economic impact data is provided by Tourism Economics, and state hotel revenue collections are provided by the Illinois Department of Revenue. The hotel revenue figures represent the taxable revenue of all Illinois hotels, motels and lodging establishments.

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