Tourism Means Big Business in QCA - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Tourism Means Big Business in QCA

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Illinois is breaking records. 

The amount of money spent by tourists is the highest it has ever been in 2012.

$31 billions came into the state from 99 million tourists.

And QCA counties are seeing the boost. 

Rock Island County was the big winner in tourism - bringing in $218 million in 2012. 

Counties benefit from this because of the sales tax it brings in.

Henry and Whiteside County saw an increase in tourism - bringing in over $35 million each.

Mercer County made $20 million - but of the four counties -they had the largest percentage jump from last year at 4%.

Much of them coming on weeks like this one - when the fair comes to town. 

Rodger Grundstrom has been overseeing the Mercer County fair for over 20 years.

And even though the county is only home to 17,000 people, many of them can been seen here this week - at the fair grounds in Aledo.

"We probably average around 15-16,000 people here during fair week," says Grundstrom. "All the exhibitors come in and buy fuel, buying fuel, buying food. And inevitably, you are going to forget something you need and run up to the store and pick it up."

Which helps the whole county - generating sales and gas taxes. 

But individual businesses benefit from the extra traffic too.

Joe Vipale is the owner of Trattoria - a restaurant known for pizza and pasta in Aledo. 

Every year he sets up show on the fair grounds - which benefits his business for the rest of the year. 

"I've been in business in Aledo for 45 years and when I started to come to the fair, selling pizza, I noticed my business uptown at my store was booming," Vipale says

And because of that - he says he hopes to continue coming to the MErcer County Fair for years to come. 

"This fair is only once a year but it's powerful for my restaurant, for my business, I've been able to make a good living."