Rockford Region Sites & Attractions See Increase in 2016 Attendance Numbers - More than 7.6 million guests experienced the Rockford region in 2016

May 9, 2017

ROCKFORD, IL – Rockford area sites and attractions saw an upswing in overall guest attendance in 2016. An additional 76,930 guests experienced the region’s great museums, sports facilities and entertainment venues for a total of 6,789,077 (up from 6,712,147 in 2015). When combined with event attendance numbers, the region totaled 7,646,375 guests.

“These numbers show just how popular our museums and facilities are, not just for visitors but for our local residents, as well,” said RACVB President/CEO John Groh. “This growth is aided by the opening of the UW Health Sports Factory, yet we are seeing increases at many of our museums which is a sign that leisure travel in the region is up.”

Increases at Discovery Center Museum (195,302 visitors), Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens (67,561 visitors) and Anderson Japanese Gardens (60,922 visitors) are all key indicators of the rise of Rockford as a destination for travelers.

[Download the full document to see Top 10 Sites & Attractions and Events attendance numbers.]

While overall sites and attractions numbers increased, overall event attendance had a slight reduction of 92,760 guests compared to the prior year with the biggest loss being from the discontinuing of Rockford AirFest which alone accounted for 150,000 guests in 2015.

“We knew that without Rockford AirFest, one of our region’s signature events, overall event attendance numbers would see a drop,” said Groh. “However, there is much to be happy about considering the strength of new and emerging events that have helped to fill that gap.”

Events such as the Rock River Anything that Floats Race (20,000 guests), Rockford Town Fair (22,000 guests) and Tough Mudder (15,000 guests) have helped to sustain the overall events numbers year over year.

From an economic development perspective, these attendance numbers take on even greater meaning. Based on the impact numbers released by the Illinois Office of Tourism in 2016, the tourism industry in Rockford accounted for more than $350 million in spending and supported more than 2,800 jobs.  

“We know tourism in our region is strong and vibrant and continues to see growth,” said Groh. “The exciting part is that we haven’t peaked yet. With new events and programs continually being developed and with new developments and expansions at key sites and attractions – such as the expansion at Mercyhealth Sportscore Two and the development of downtown hotel projects – we are poised for growth in the coming years.”

The mission of the RACVB is to drive quality of life and economic growth for our citizens through tourism marketing and destination development.

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Josh Albrecht, RACVB Director of Marketing, 815.489.1655,