Tourism impact ‘huge’ in county

Tourism is a big deal in Vandalia and Fayette County. We've known that for some time, but state tourism officials this week made it official.
As a part of a five-day statewide barnstorming tour, Illinois Office of Tourism Director Jen Hoelzle and other tourism officials stopped in Vandalia on Tuesday. During a program at the Vandalia Statehouse, Hoelzle praised the local tourism effort and underscored the economic impact of tourism on the state and local economies.
The state, she said, just recorded a third consecutive year of record-breaking tourism industry numbers. Last year, the state attracted 105.7 million visitors (an increase of 4.5 percent over 2012), generating $2.6 billion in revenue.
The impact in Fayette County was significant, as well. Visitors in 2013 spent $26.5 million.
"Tourism is a huge economic driver, and we say that tourism is a fun industry, but these numbers are serious," Hoelzle said.
She's exactly right. Visitors to our historic sites and museums have a tremendous impact on our local economy. They buy meals, they fill their car with gas, they  shop at our stores and some might even stay overnight. And that's why we need to be reminded of our critical role in making their experience a good one.
"This is a team effort," Hoelzle said. It's very, very important to keep these visitors coming, and it doesn't happen without your support."
To top off her visit to Vandalia, Hoelzle honored one of our stalwart promoters – Mary Truitt – by presenting her with a Lincoln Award. Truitt has a long history of promoting all things historical in Vandalia, and in recent years has been the linchpin in the establishment and staffing of the National Road Interpretive Center.
Congratulations to her – and to all involved in our local tourism promotion effort. Job well done.
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