Feigenholtz celebrates record-breaking tourism growth

CHICAGO – State Senator Sara Feigenholtz is celebrating Monday’s news that Illinois hotel revenue during the 2023 fiscal year exceeded the highest pre-pandemic record, bringing an increase in visitor spending, tax revenue and hospitality jobs.

“Tourism is not just about the bragging rights of being the top attraction that everyone wants to cross off their list – which we are,” said State Senator Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago). “It’s really about dollars and cents.”

Illinois welcomed 111 million visitors who spent $44 billion in 2022 – representing 14 million additional travelers spending $12 billion more than they did in calendar year 2021. Because of tourist spending and visits in 2022, the overall economic impact – which includes indirect and induced impacts – amounted to a staggering $78 billion, a 30% increase from 2021.

This growth comes on the heels of significant investments in the travel and tourism industry backed by Senate Democrats, including $8 million to support projects along Route 66, $3 million for tourism marketing grants, and $33 million for two rounds of tourism and festivals grants – amounting to nearly 200 awards benefiting communities across the state. Illinois has also distributed hundreds of millions of dollars directly to hotels, restaurants, and other tourism businesses through its Back to Business and Business Interruption Grant programs.

Senator Feigenholtz served as chair of the Senate Tourism and Hospitality Committee, where she led initiatives that provided relief to the industry, funding for tourism promotion, and extended cocktails to-go to provide a lifeline to bars and restaurants struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her district encompasses some of the most-visited destinations in Illinois, including Lincoln Park Zoo, Wrigley Field and Oak Street beach, stretching north along the lakefront from Chicago Avenue to Montrose Harbor and attracting millions each year.

“That $44 billion in visitor spending in 2022 is money that goes right into our communities, our workforce, and our public services,” Feigenholtz added. “I look forward to even more growth in the years ahead.”

To find more detailed information about the economic impact of visitors in Illinois, click here.