The Illinois Council of Convention & Visitor Bureaus (ICCVB) on Monday night recognized Gov. JB Pritzker during the 2021 Illinois’ Governor’s Conference on Travel and Tourism for his leadership and commitment to the tourism industry.
This recognition comes after the Governor recommended a budget that made clear funding for tourism and convention efforts is essential to help the state recover from pandemic-related revenue losses, according to the ICCVB, which is chaired by Visit Quad Cities president/CEO Dave Herrell. He noted the budget is just the first step to help attract visitors and businesses back to Illinois.
“Governor Pritzker’s commitment and support of tourism and the multiple sectors it positively impacts is incredibly appreciated by ICCVB,” Herrell said in a Tuesday release. “The unique destinations and communities that make Illinois a compelling place to visit throughout all corners of the state need tourism to thrive.
“As it continues to play a critical role in the State of Illinois’ economic recovery, we look forward to our continued partnership with the Governor’s Office and the Illinois Office of Tourism as we work together to rebuild our economy and position the State of Illinois for future success,” he said.
This year, the new Silver Lining Stories initiative awarded tourism attractions and business owners who rallied to support their communities and innovated under extremely challenging circumstances as they navigated the pandemic. Honorees were chosen by their industry peers who voted via the Illinois Governor’s Conference on Tourism Facebook page.
“I’m committed to making the investments necessary to renew our tourism industry and the communities it supports,” Pritzker said in a release. “We’ve deployed over $1 billion in relief to over 10,000 Illinois businesses in hundreds of cities and towns throughout our state.
“We’ve provided 7,500 hospitality grants totaling $265 million through the Business Interruption Grants and Back to Business Grants,” he said. “And we’re distributing grants aimed at new and returning festivals and tourism attractions everywhere in our state.”
“Congratulations to the small businesses and community groups who were nominated for the Silver Lining Stories,” said Sylvia I. Garcia, acting director of the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO). “Their stories spotlight the ingenuity, resilience and resourcefulness we saw in the tourism industry and across Illinois as folks pivoted to help each other and be in service to their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
With domestic and international competition for visitors, there is a need for urgency in the state’s recovery and ICCVB’s goal is to support those efforts in all ways possible. Leisure travel, business meetings, conventions and sports tourism are all vitally important for Illinois’ economic growth. ICCVB will continue to advocate for strategic investments that support tourism and the industry in order to get back to the 2019 numbers, a record breaking year, Herrell said.
The Illinois Council of Convention & Visitor Bureaus represents 37 local destination organizations around Illinois, including Chicago and hundreds of downstate cities, small towns, main streets, urban and rural communities.
The organization works with the Illinois DCEO, Illinois Office of Tourism and industry partners to promote Illinois communities as welcoming multi-cultural destinations to visit, work and live through brand awareness, promotion, sales, and visitor engagement.