International Travel Writers Visit Rockford

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ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- There's no question Rockford has gotten a bad rap., but one group's visit to the Stateline this weekend could help turn that stigma around while possibly bringing more visitors and money from around the world.

"Any exposure that we can get and anyone I can talk to about the house makes me personally happy, but it also makes me happy for the town that I was born and raised in," said Jerry Heinzeroth.

Heinzeroth runs the Laurent House, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the 1940's, and he's looking to gain as much exposure as he can before the property opens as a museum in the summer.

This morning he played host to international travel media and travel trade representatives.

"Hosting them today and tomorrow will help us get great exposure internationally as we give them a glimpse of what we have and then go back and tell their customers about it," said RACVB President John Groh.

The visitors were in Chicago as part of the IPW International Trade Show and are spending the weekend in Rockford to see what the city has to offer.

Along with the Laurent House, the group of 25 from more than 10 countries went on tours at the Nicholas Conservatory, Anderson Gardens and the Riverfront Museum and many say they like what they see.

"I as a tourist may not come to the northwest part of Illinois," said Anne Marie Mitchell, who is visiting from Australia. "I might come to Chicago, I might pass through Chicago for three, four, five days,but I may not come out to the countryside. So it's an opportunity especially with the media on board to spread the news that this is a place to come."

The Forest City is already getting rave reviews after hosting the Travel Media Showcase last August and city leaders hope this latest visit brings in even more positive press.

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