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Sangamon County Leads State in Tourism for Last Year

Updated: Wednesday, July 30 2014, 10:56 PM CDT
SANGAMON COUNTY -- New numbers from the Illinois Office of Tourism say tourism is up across
the country.  Sangamon County leads the state with the largest increase
in tourism in the last year and that increase is also higher than the
national average.

It's sites like the Abraham Lincoln home that
drew nearly 1.6 million visitors to Illinois last year.  That's over 4
million more than the year before.  Many of those folks making their way
through the capital city, generating billions of dollars in revenue and
thousands of jobs.

Tourism is up as a whole in the united states, but the capital city is feeling it too.

county leads the state in visitor expenditures... Springfield is really
doing great things," said the Illinois Office of Tourism Director, Jen

In 2012, tourism generated $388 million and provided
3,140 jobs here locally.  Last year, that went up, bringing in $406
million and employing 3,230 people.

"Huge increase for our 2013
numbers... bringing over $407 million into the Springfield economy,"
said Gina Gemberling, Acting Director of the Springfield Convention and
Visitors Bureau.

Visitors are drawn to the historic sites.

"We're going to see all the Lincoln sites," said Diane Blankenbeckler, who was visiting from Tennessee.

But, they stay when they realize what all there is to do and see in the capital city.

going to be here all day. There's too much to do in a little bit, so
we're ere for the duration, til we get everything done," said

"We come through here on our way home from
Chicago and happened to see it when we stopped to see the Lincoln Museum
and didn't realize it was her," said Mark Plunk, a visitor from

Local businesses are seeing the pick up in tourism too.

impact of tourism on Springfield is absolutely huge. Having multiple
businesses downtown I see it on a day-to-day business," said Casey Conn,
Facilities Manager for Conn's Hospitality Group, which owns Springfield
businesses like Obed & Isaacs.

And that ends up being more dollars spent in your town, and staying in your town.

the Lincoln Home though, didn't have such a good year.  A report from
the National Park Service shows tourism was actually down at the former
president's home in 2013.  Much of that they attributed to the
government shutdown in October which forced the home to close for two
whole weeks. Sangamon County Leads State in Tourism for Last Year

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