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Armstrong: DeKalb County tourism revenue up

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014 12:37 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014 8:24 a.m. CDT

New figures released by the state of Illinois reported that visitor spending in DeKalb County in 2013 totaled $81.58 million. That’s the fifth consecutive year that tourism spending has increased. Local tax receipt revenue was reported at $1.28 million.

That is great news for our area. The revenue generated from tourism spending plays a vital role in the economic vitality of DeKalb County.

A new Hampton Inn & Suites opened in DeKalb in March, adding 80 hotel rooms to our inventory. We’ve seen an increase in the DeKalb/Sycamore hotel sales tax revenue but the final figures for the fiscal year aren’t available yet.

The DeKalb County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau’s mission is to grow the region’s economy through tourism spending. Those visitor dollars go right back into the community and businesses to provide residents with a better quality of life.

Some of last year’s highlights include:

• Our first successful IHSA state football championship.

• Booked more than 15,000 hotel room nights for events.

• Booked 479 room nights for IHSA state football championship.

• Booked 350 room nights for IESA state wrestling championship.

• Booked 350 room nights for MS: Tour de Farm Bike Ride event.

• Booked two new groups for 2015, which should result in approximately 800 room nights.

• Launched a new responsive website design to attract more visitors.

• Produced two Mini Abe videos that resulted in more than 3,000 views.

• Distributed 40,000 visitor guides at visitor information centers throughout Illinois and Wisconsin, which includes 10,000 that go directly to Northern Illinois University.

Gov. Pat Quinn announced that Illinois had its third consecutive record-breaking year for tourism. More people are coming to Illinois for leisure and business travel, generating more than $2.5 billion for the state economy.

In addition, the Illinois tourism industry workforce also grew to 301,100 in 2013, adding 2,400 new jobs to the state. These impressive numbers, provided by D.K. Shifflet & Associates Ltd., highlight the tourism industry’s contributions to Illinois’ economic growth, job creation and tax revenue.

SAVE THE DATE FOR KITE FEST

DeKalb Kite Fest is Sept. 14 at the “North 40,” at the corner of Lucinda Avenue and Kishwaukee Drive. Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Kites, food and ice cream treats will be available.

The kite acts are provided by Kite Harbor from Chicago. The kite flyers are really part of our DeKalb County family now. They continue to delight the crowds with beautiful kites and flying skill.

Community volunteers are needed to work 2 hour shifts from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. To volunteer, call 815-756-1336. For more details on Kite Fest, visit dekalbcountycvb.com or search for DeKalbKiteFest on Facebook.

’15 DEKALB COUNTY VISITOR GUIDE

Our bureau also is working on designing and gathering information for the new visitor guide, which will be distributed in January. Ten thousand guides will be delivered to NIU to promote and introduce new students, parents and staff to all there is to see and do in DeKalb County. The guide is our premiere marketing piece that is sent out to all visitors requesting information. To secure ad space, contact Lisa Angel at 815-756-4841, ext. 2236, or langel@shawmedia.com.

Until next time, safe travels.

• Debbie Armstrong is executive director of the DeKalb County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

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