Travel Generates Billions of Dollars, Thousands of Jobs for Illinois, Chicago

The travel and tourism industry generates billions of dollars in economic impact and supports hundreds of thousands of jobs in Chicago and throughout the state of Illinois, according to Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, who officially announced Illinois' 2008 tourism numbers last month at Chicago's Navy Pier, the Midwest's most visited tourist attraction.

Joined by labor leaders, community advocates and other elected officials, Daley and Quinn reported that visitors spent $30.8 billion statewide last year, yielding $2.1 billion in state and local taxes and generating 303,500 jobs.

"Our convention and tourism industry is one of Illinois' prime economic growth engines," Quinn said in a statement. "It produces thousands of jobs while bolstering the image of Chicago and the Land of Lincoln throughout the world. Even in this difficult economy, we must always reinvest in this industry. We must keep it strong and vital so everyone in Illinois may benefit and prosper."

Chicago alone welcomed 45.6 million domestic and overseas visitors last year, generating $11.8 billion in spending, up 2.6 percent from 2007.

"We are doing all we can to support and expand our convention and tourism industry, and because of the thousands of jobs it creates it is one of our top economic development priorities," Daley said. "Chicago is one of the world's great destinations and when we attract visitors to Chicago we help create jobs for hard-working people and keep our hospitality industry and all our local businesses strong."

International travelers are especially important to Illinois, as Chicago welcomed more than 1.3 million overseas visitors last year—a 19 percent increase over 2007 and the largest volume of overseas visitors that the city has ever hosted. According to Choose Chicago, Chicago's convention and visitors bureau, Chicago is the ninth most popular city for overseas visitors to the United States, while Illinois is the sixth most popular state.