Tourism Increases For Illinois Counties - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Tourism Increases For Illinois Counties

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More tourists are spending leisure time in the smaller communities of Illinois. New numbers from the tourism office show travelers are also spending more money in Carroll, Lee, Ogle and Whiteside counties.

Numbers are up 13.9 percent for 2012 -- totaling more than $151 million in those four counties for the year.

"They love our small towns," said Diana Bausman, Executive Director for the Blackhawk Waterways Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Bausman says the tourism up-tick is not about what those counties are doing differently. What draws visitors is how the communities have stayed the same throughout the years.

It's 2,700 sq. miles of Midwestern hospitality, quaint shops and restaurants, and leisurely activities.

"We offer the small town friendly atmosphere that maybe some people grew up with but when they moved into the suburbs, it's one strip mall after another," Bausman said. "You aren't going to find that here."

Cities like Morrison, with populations 600 times less than cities like Chicago, offer visitors a real chance to get away.

According to recent data from the Illinois Tourism Office, visitors have increasingly been spending more money in Whiteside, Carroll, Ogle and Lee Counties increasingly for the last several years.

"Every year we have seen a significant increase and of course we are thrilled with that," said Bausman.

"We know that people are vacationing closer to home. And our four county region is a great destination for people from the Chicagoland area looking for an easy one, two or even three day getaway."