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Berggren: Tourism brings more money to McHenry County, state

Published: Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014 5:30 a.m.CDT

The Illinois Office of Tourism recently released its 2013 Economic Impact of Illinois Travel and Tourism report.

The Office of Tourism celebrated a third consecutive year of record-breaking tourism industry numbers by conducting its annual five-day, 17-stop “Road Show” tour around the state.

This year, for the first time, one of the agency’s stops was in McHenry County.On Aug. 1, the Enjoy Illinois bus along with Jen Hoelzle, the Illinois Director of Tourism, and one of Illinois’ favorite little ambassadors, Mini Abe, announced the tourism numbers at the McHenry County Fair.

In 2013, the state’s tourism industry hosted nearly 105.7 million visitors, an increase of 4.5 percent over 2012, generating $2.6 billion in revenue.

In McHenry County, visitor expenditures were more than $214 million, an increase of $1.5 million over 2012. These expenditures generated $6.5 million in local tax revenue and more than $44 million in payroll for McHenry County. The local visitor economy in McHenry County is robust and it is our investors, partners and tourism advocates that continue to make the visitor experience wonderful visit after visit.

During the Road Show, a Lincoln Award was presented to one of McHenry County’s very own tourism advocates that continuously goes above and beyond to ensure the visitor experience is always exceptional. Congratulations to Josh Arnow of the Bike Haven in McHenry for earning this coveted tourism award and thank you for all you do for the McHenry County tourism industry.

Visit McHenry County’s new partnership program was rolled out last April.

We would like to recognize and thank the following private businesses in McHenry County for their investment in tourism as our first official partners this year: The Raue Center for the Arts, Crystal Lake; The Illinois Railway Museum, Union; Richardson Adventure Farm, Spring Grove; Royal Oak Farm Orchard, Harvard; Sanfilippo Estate’s Place de la Musique, Barrington Hills; Stade’s Farm & Market, McHenry; The Bike Haven, McHenry; Von Bergen’s Country Market, Hebron; Loyola University Retreat & Ecology Campus, Woodstock; McHenry County Living; Woodstock Mozart Festival, Woodstock; Georgio’s Pizzeria & Pub, Crystal Lake; Alpine Accessories, Lake in the Hills; Autumn Drive, Woodstock; Blue Eagle Pottery, Woodstock; Brook Farm, Harvard; Da Baffone Cucina Italiana, Crystal Lake; Downtown Crystal Lake/Main Street; Green Box Boutique, Woodstock; La Petit Marche, Crystal Lake; Morkes Chocolate, Algonquin; Off the Rails, Woodstock; Port Edward Restaurant, Algonquin; Prairie Sky Orchard, Union; Red Barn Farm Market, Woodstock; Steel Heart, Harvard; The Black Orchid Boutique, McHenry; Victorian Rose Garden Bed & Breakfast, Algonquin; Volo Antique Malls, Volo; Country Inn & Suites, Crystal Lake; Hampton Inn, McHenry; Holiday Inn, Crystal Lake; and Holiday Inn Express, Algonquin.

We also would like to thank McHenry County for its continued investment in tourism. The following municipalities have seen the value in supporting tourism and understand the economic development it creates: McHenry, Woodstock, Crystal Lake, Richmond, Lakewood, Lake in the Hills and Island Lake. The growth in tourism is good for the state and McHenry County as travel and tourism related expenditures and tax receipts go a long way in funding state agencies and non-tourism related programs that contribute to the quality of life we all enjoy as residents.

For information about becoming an investor or partner in tourism, visit www.visitmchenrycounty.com

• Jaki Berggren is executive director of Visit McHenry County. Reach her at 815-893-6280.

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