National/QCA Tourism Spending Up - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

National/QCA Tourism Spending Up

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All the Fourth of July parties and other festivals mean people will be traveling and spending some money this weekend.

The amount Americans spend on travel is up 6.8 percent during the first three months of the year.

That's from the Commerce Department.

Tourism is a major part of the Q.C.A. Economy, and breaking down that 6.8 percent growth number to see the whole picture.

Much of the increase came from passenger air traffic up 19 percent

Car rentals notched a nine percent boost, but restaurants and hotels saw a smaller increase in spending growth. Two and five percent increases respectively.

The overall impact of that growth is this, tourism jobs increased by 2.3 percent nationally.

Growth that's also showing up in the Q.C.A.

"I work up here, so I travel up here for that, we're up here for the fireworks show, come up early to get a good seat, travel to Peoria quite a bit, got family that lives there," says Galesburg's Adam Woodside.

He's taken fewer trips since his stint with the military ended, but his family is planning a couple bigger trips in the next couple of years. Starting with a drive to St. Louis before summer is out.

"Promised my middle daughter that we'd go to the arch, kind of a birthday wish for her so we're going to do that hopefully in the next couple of weeks," says Woodside.

He still measures his trips against the price of gas, but the Quad Cities Conventions and Visitors Bureau says tourism spending here is strong.

"I think we're doing really well in our visitors counts, we've had some really great events," says Marketing Manager Jessica Waytenick.

She says our area is a destination for those living in Chicago and Iowa. The Commerce Department figures show tourism wages grew in the Quad Cities during the first three months of this year. An important trend to track because the Q.C.A. averages one million visitors every year.

"It's the third largest employer in the Quad Cities as an industry behind the Rock Island Arsenal, and John Deere," says Waytenick.

"I wouldn't think that a lot of people could actually afford, I guess that maybe they're saving in other ways to maybe do something like that," says Rochelle Ward.

She takes trips every summer. she's got a big one scheduled this year and she believes numbers showing an increase in tourist spending can only be a positive sign.

"If people are willing to save money other ways to go do other things, to get away, I think that's good," says Ward.

The Conventions and Visitors Bureau says hotels were at 50 percent capacity during the first months of the year.

A strong number during cold weather.

It expects those numbers to reflect higher activity as we go through the peak travel season.