Despite pandemic, QC tourism in 2020 produced $958 million in economic impact

Local News

Visit Quad Cities — which recently unveiled a new “QC, That’s Where” promotional brand campaign — reported positive 2020 economic numbers, despite the pandemic.

Even with the COVID pandemic shutting down much of the local travel and hospitality industry for a good chunk of 2020, Quad Cities tourism supported 8,000 jobs and produced a total of $958.7 million in visitor spending in the area.

That was down 21.5% compared to QC tourism spending in 2019, while the U.S. Travel Association reported a 42-percent drop in nationwide travel spending in 2020.

“Tourism and non-resident revenues produce positive bottom-line results for our regional economy,” Dave Herrell, president and CEO of Visit Quad Cities, said in a Tuesday release. “Our destination’s ability to regain the momentum we had from 2019 is critical. Working closely with our state partners and Tourism Economics, we expected the sharp decline in 2020, but outperformed our forecast.

“Now, we need to continually align with our stakeholders as we move out of the downturn and increase the urgency for destination marketing if the QC is going to compete for business and leisure travel,” he said.

These impacts reported by Visit Quad Cities result from overnight stays, day trippers, meetings, conventions, sporting events, and group tours.

To quantify the economic significance of tourism in Iowa and Illinois, the Iowa Tourism Office (a division of the Iowa Economic Development Authority) and Illinois Office of Tourism (a division of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity) have contracted with Tourism Economics, the leading authority on travel and tourism research, to prepare a comprehensive model detailing the far-reaching impacts from visitor spending.

The results of these studies show the scope of the industry in terms of visitor spending and the total fiscal impact generated, according to Visit Quad Cities. County-by-county analysis is part of the Tourism Economics report which is issued by both states to its destination marketing partners.

Before 2020, a different economic model was used by both states to calculate tourism economic impact and the results used figures generated by the U.S. Travel Association’s Travel Impact Model. The new data collected by both states takes a deeper dive into the economic impact of tourism by measuring domestic and international visitation and various impacts that affect the economy of a destination like the QC region.  Tourism Economics will be used by both states, along with the U.S. Travel Association moving forward to report the economic impact of tourism.

Visit Quad Cities is a member of U.S. Travel Association and uses their data, along with other business intelligence such as Destination International’s Event Impact Calculator, STR, Inc., and DataFY to measure and analyze tourism performance in the market.

Total visitor spending in the QC for 2019 was $1.22 billion, which generated $74.79 million in local taxes and $76.48 million in state taxes. The 2020 tax revenue from tourism was $65.14 million in local taxes and $62.87 million in state taxes, according to Visit Quad Cities.

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