Despite the slow economy and the economic problems in Europe, the State of Illinois is still experiencing strong tourism numbers. For example, last year the state hosted a record 93.3 million visitors and those visitors generated another record of $31.8 billion in revenue. These numbers clearly indicate that Illinois not only has something that the tourists value, but the state is doing a great job promoting our Illinois destinations.
More locally, the City of Pontiac last year experienced a 40% increase in the number of visitors, and so far this year the city is on track to see a 60% increase over last year’s record numbers. The Pontiac Tourism office has been very aggressive in their marketing and one of the areas that has seen a huge increase this year is in-state visitors. Although it is difficult to state categorically, the city believes that the reason for this increase is due partially to their presence at the Chicago Auto Show and the World of Wheels shows earlier this year. Another area which has shown a significant increase is the number of groups who have visited this year. By groups, they refer to coach bus tours, motorcycle tours, car clubs and other organizations. The opening of the Pontiac Oakland Auto Museum has resulted in a significant increase in the number of car clubs coming to our area and spending several days.
The city continues to develop tourism and marketing strategies in order to continue growing as a premier tourism destination. New this year are the Life in the 1940’s exhibit at the Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum, the Museum of Gilding Arts exhibit at the Walldog Mural Museum, the mobile device tour, and the weekend hop-on, hop-off trolley history tour in downtown.
According to Pontiac Tourism Director, Ellie Alexander, “The greatest asset the City of Pontiac has in regards to tourism is the local people who smile and welcome strangers they meet on the street. I have heard so many positive comments about our city’s warm hospitality.”