Rockford Chamber VOICE Article - April 2016
Tourism Attendance Numbers Accelerate
By John Groh

Tourism attendance numbers accelerate

Recently, I had the chance to review regional activities with our team at the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, and we noticed a very encouraging trend - our region is accelerating to new heights!

As we discussed regional trends in the tourism arena, we couldn't help but notice the great momentum that continues to build and in turn is fueling visitor attendance and spending. Last year, we reported a great increase in numbers from 2014 as visitor spending reached new heights at $340 million (a 6.3% increase from 2013) and visitor attendance increased to 7.6 million at sites, attractions and events.

As visitor counts increase, the sites, attractions, restaurants and stores in our region grow. We talk a lot about the increase in development in downtown Rockford as we prepare for the impact of the UW Health Sports Factory opening this June. Downtown Rockford has seen tremendous gains as the community builds its urban core to become an amazing destination for families attending events at the Factory, as well as the continued popularity of the Rockford IceHogs and events at the Coronado Theatre and the Riverfront Museum Campus.

And, we saw attendance numbers go up again in 2015 for many of our events and attractions. The RACVB will release the 2015 attendance numbers for the region in a few weeks during National Travel & Tourism Week in early May. Here is a sneak peak at a few of the increases in 2015:

- Anderson Japanese Gardens guest attendance increased from 36, 875 in 2014 to 49,272.
- Discovery Center Museum guest attendance increased from 169,328 in 2014 to 181,961.
- Midtown Ethnic Parade & Festival guest attendance increased from 1,500 in 2014 to 3,000.
- Midway Village Museum guest attendance increased from 56,869 in 2014 to 66,812.
- Rockford City Market guest attendance increased from 75,500 in 2014 to 101,860.

You can see by these numbers why we are excited to share the attendance numbers from 2015 with the community. Additionally, we look forward to the numbers the State of Illinois will share with us this summer on the overall economic impact of the 2015 tourism year.

Finally, did you know that according to the US Travel Association the top three leisure travel activities for U.S. domestic travelers are (1) visiting relatives; (2) shopping; and (3) visiting friends? So, as your friends and family look to plan their summer getaways, encourage them to come visit you in Rockford!

We have a lot going on in our region and our sites and attractions coupled with our Real. Original. events make for lots of fun throughout the year, but especially during our Rockford summers!

As you look for the perfect getaway for your friends and family or just want to create your own staycation, check out our website at or stop by our office at 102 N. Main and pick up our Rockford Region Visitor's Guide to get the scoop on why everything is reaching new heights!