Bureau’s Interactive Programming Line-Up Includes LunchChat, Tourism Lights, Songwriting Contest Winner, Tourism Impact Video and More!

Tourism’s spirit is alive and well throughout the Rockford region—and the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (RACVB) is here to celebrate with the community! As part of National Travel & Tourism Week (NTTW) 2020 (May 3-9), RACVB has built week-long programming for our region to join in shining a spotlight on the important impact of tourism and how it will help shape our future.

Alongside the City of Rockford and Burpee Museum of Natural History, RACVB kicked off festivities at a virtual press conference today that outlined NTTW program highlights for the week and an announcing the member of Mayor Tom McNamara’s Rebounding Rockford Tourism & Hospitality working group. RACVB president/CEO John Groh and Burpee Museum executive director Anne Weerda will co-chair the Tourism & Hospitality group that is tasked with planning and advocating for the industry’s recovery.

“I am thankful to Mayor McNamara and Anne, both of whom are great partners of tourism, for the opportunity to work together on this journey to a new normal,” said Groh. “I’m honored to co-chair the group with Anne. We are both eager to get to work with so many talented people. Moreover, as the Rockford area’s destination management organization, RACVB has a responsibility to do right by the community and its visitors—and we are all-in to work creatively to help restart the industry safely, responsibly and with an eye toward sustainably.”

Groh and Weerda are joined on the Rockford Rebounding Tourism & Hospitality group by:

  • David Anderson (Anderson Japanese Gardens),
  • Marcus Bacon (Radisson Rockford Hotel & Conference Center),
  • Frank Beach (alderman, City of Rockford),
  • Al Castrogiovanni (Giovanni’s, Legacy),
  • Fred DeLaRosa (Embassy Suites by Rockford Riverfront & Rockford Conference Center),
  • Troy Flynn (Rockford Area Venues and Entertainment Authority),
  • Vickie Fogel (event planner),
  • Michelle LaMay (Franchesco’s Ristorante),
  • Louis Mateus (Rockford Park District),
  • Sarah Wolf (Discovery Center Museum), and
  • Wester Wuori (City of Rockford).

As part of tourism’s comeback, RACVB has curated creative programs since mid-March to help partners navigate the pandemic, many of which will be included in our celebration of NTTW. A tourism-specific series of LunchChat returns this Tuesday, May 5, for a discussion about tourism partnership that enhancing quality of place, and Thursday, May 7, for an overview of how tourism is a catalyst for community recovery.

Additionally, area places and spaces will be lit nightly in red, the official color of NTTW, to celebrate tourism and to show support to industry employees currently out of work due to the pandemic. Also, the Bureau will announce the winner of Stay Home Songs, its community songwriting contest, on Wednesday, May 6; and RACVB will roll out a video highlighting tourism’s universal impact as told by a various community partners on Friday, May 8.

Stay Social: RACVB encourages the community to follow its social channels for additional NTTW updates, and to interact utilizing #GoRockford, #NTTW20 and #SpiritOfTravel through May 9. A list of RACVB’s NTTW program highlights include:

Monday-Saturday, May 4-9, Evenings, Tourism Lights: Join RACVB and many community partners in illuminating the exteriors of your businesses and homes in the color red, the official color of National Travel & Tourism Week 2020! RACVB, City Hall, Main Street District, Morgan Street Bridge, Embassy Suites by Hilton Rockford Riverfront, and Nicholas Conservatory (Tuesday, May 5 only) will proudly display their tourism spirit in red lights this week—join us all week!

Tuesday, May 5, 12 p.m., LunchChat: RACVB staff presents “Tourism Ties: Partnering to Enhance Our Region’s Quality of Place”, which will explore comprehensive tourism program development and ways to partner together as we prepare for a post-COVID-19 landscape. Register HERE!

Wednesday, May 6, Stay Home Songs Winner Announcement: On the heels of receiving 25 entries for Stay Home Songs, the Bureau’s community songwriting contest during #StayHomeRKFD, our five expert guest judges have voted for their favorites. The winning song will be announced mid-afternoon Wednesday on GoRockford social channels. Stay tuned for more interactive updates about Stay Home Songs…

Thursday, May 7, 12 p.m., LunchChat: Alongside three national tourism industry partners and Mayor McNamara, RACVB presents “Tourism as a Catalyst for Recovery”, which will explore how agencies and businesses can and should prepare for tourism’s recovery and how the industry can revitalize our broader local economy. Register HERE!

Friday, May 8, RACVB Tourism Impacts Video Release: To close out NTTW 2020, RACVB will unveil its latest video highlighting the tourism and hospitality industry’s lasting impact, as told by many of the Bureau’s community partners. Special thanks to these partners and Pablo Korona for the creative collaboration!


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

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Nick Povalitis, RACVB Vice President of Marketing & Sports Development, 815.489.1652, npovalitis@gorockford.com