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Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011 03:34 pm

Springfield tourism needs state support

During the fall veto session there is the potential the state Tourism Promotion Funds (TPF) could once again be targeted for cuts. Though there may be no immediate direct threat to this fund, it is best for those who support tourism to be proactive in their advocacy.

I believe our local legislators are allies for our industry, but we need to continue to remind them of the economic impact that tourism brings to Springfield and to all of Illinois.

No city or local community could possibly afford to advertise nationally or regionally at the levels provided through the Illinois Office of Tourism. As the number two destination driver for Illinois, Springfield received direct benefit from much of that advertising and marketing. Once you quit advertising, there are thousands of destinations waiting to take your place. We can’t afford to lose our market share. The state’s domestic advertising program allows us to reach at least 20 major Midwest markets.

Regional Tourism Destination Offices (RTDO’s) are funded through the TPF. These regional offices across the state provide marketing support for communities not represented by a convention and visitors bureau. The central Illinois region alone encompasses 18 counties.

Tourist Information Centers (TIC) are funded by TPF as well. During fiscal 2011, 16 TICs were eliminated. Recently 10 of the centers were reopened, including the visitors center at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. The TIC’s are the first point of contact for visitors entering our state and gathering information for their travels through Illinois.

The Tourism Promotion Fund also provides many grants to Illinois communities for various marketing programs. Each year, Springfield applies for a Marketing Partnership Grant which allows us to leverage our marketing dollars by providing a 50 percent match on many of our media placements, as well as our annual Visitors Guide and other printed materials.

For every dollar invested in tourism marketing, we receive a minimum return of $6 in visitor expenditures.

In 2010, Springfield and Sangamon County alone received nearly $355 million in economic impact from its tourism industry.

Remember, all TPF funding comes from the state hotel/motel tax. No other state taxes are used to fund tourism programs.

The tourism industry is vitally important to Springfield. It relies on continued citizen support.

Tim Farley is executive director of the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau, 789-2360.


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