Tourism in Chicago suburbs grows; reminder that suburbs are also destinations

I was intrigued to see the news that tourism in the Chicago suburbs, as well as in Illinois on the whole, was up in 2011 compared to 2010:

Local counties were among those gaining the most tourism dollars across the state during 2011, which is fueling a so-called road show with state officials touting those numbers to help keep the momentum going.

Cook and DuPage counties saw revenues climb more than 8 percent. Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties saw about 6 percent more revenue pouring back in after some tough years, according to the Illinois Office of Tourism and the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity…

Cook County, which includes Schaumburg, Chicago and other cities, had garnered about $19 billion of tourism dollars in 2011, an 8.4 percent increase over 2010. Next up was DuPage County which received $2.1 billion, an increase of 8.1 percent.

Overall, the state got a record $31.8 billion during 2011, an increase of 8.4 percent from 2010. The number of visitors in Illinois also set a record with 93.3 million in 2011, up 10.2 percent from 2010 and passing the previous record of 91 million in 2006.

These statistics suggest that tourism in Chicago still dwarfs what goes on in suburban counties: Cook County has has roughly 9 times as many tourism tax dollars as DuPage County and nearly 5 times as much as DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Kane, and Will counties put together. At the same time, these suburban tourism tax dollars are not small amounts. The DuPage County figure is impressive: the county had $2 billion dollars in taxes from tourism. This is part of a larger point that can be made about suburbs: they are not just simply places to live but are now locations where visitors come to visit, shop, and partake in cultural and recreational opportunities. Suburban residents don’t have to go to the big city for all of their trips or cultural opportunities: there are places where they can and do spend their money in the suburbs.

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