Community Spotlight: Impact of tourism in Southwestern Illinois helps drive local economies

Now that we are all permitted to get out of the house, perhaps it is time to rediscover the amenities tourists come here to experience in our own backyard.

Speaking of tourism, I spoke with Cory Jobe, the president and CEO of Great Rivers and Routes Tourism Bureau, about what brings people to Southwestern Illinois. Jobe comes to Southwestern Illinois from a four-year stint as director of the Illinois Office of Tourism, Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. A major catch for our region! Before joining us, he also served as vice president of marketing and communication for Navy Pier in Chicago. Great Rivers and Routes represents the Illinois counties of Madison, Macoupin, Montgomery, Jersey, Calhoun and Greene.

I asked him the obvious question, “Why would you take a tourism job in the middle of a pandemic?”

He said he was happy to be here because he missed working with destination marketing. So, I pressed him on the fact that tourism, including business at restaurants and lodging/hospitality took a major hit in 2020. In fact, according to the May 2020 online publication Illinois Policy, 73% of firms in tourism and lodging expected to close permanently.

Jobe said he thought that number was a little high.

“Business owners have to be creative. Unfortunately, some businesses did shut down. It’s not the strongest recovery but we’re getting there.”

As anyone following the pandemic knows, we are not at the elusive herd immunity level yet, and another threat, the Delta variant is in the U.K. and Dr. Anthony Fauci, with the National Institutes of Health, fears it may come to the U.S. Jobe noted that he is closely following developments and is keenly aware of the possibility of another round of COVID.

“We can’t shut down again. I don’t think many small businesses…

Region: Metro East,Feeds,News

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June 11, 2021 at 07:29PM

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