ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Visitors to Winnebago County in 2013 spent $319,580,000 at area hotels, restaurants and other retail businesses, according to the Illinois Office of Tourism.
In related results, tourism in Winnebago County supported 2,640 jobs in the hospitality sector; those jobs generated $71,290,000 in payroll. The tax revenue produced by the local visitor industry was $5,240,000 while at the state level it was $17,650,000.
“These numbers are down slightly, -2.1 percent, from 2012 which was a banner year for Winnebago County at $326,000,000,” said RACVB Board Chairman Darrell Snorek. “In 2011 and 2012 Winnebago County’s tourism increases outpaced that of other metro regions in Illinois. In fact, in 2011 it grew at a higher rate than the State of Illinois,” added Snorek.
“Part of the reason for strong performances in 2011 and 2012 was the Chrysler Belvidere Assembly Plant’s retooling and the Exelon Byron Generating Station’s refueling, both of which added significant corporate long-term business to area hotels,” explained RACVB President/CEO John Groh.
In related news, sites and attractions in the region recorded record-breaking visitation during 2013. In total, area sites and attractions welcomed 6,765,917 visitors, up about 1 percent over 2012. Individual events in the region grew, however total attendance for festivals and events dropped due to the cancelation of On the Waterfront and cancelation of the 2013 Rockford Airfest due to federal sequestration (Airfest subsequently returned in 2014).
Event attendance was 795,245 in 2013 versus 1,062,634 in 2012. When these two events are removed from the calculation, overall event attendance grew approximately 5 percent.