Visit Oak Park Press Release: funding cuts to Illinois tourism initiatives

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By Community Editor

For Immediate Release
May 21, 2015
Contact: Emily M. Sjostrom, Marketing Manager
Emily@VisitOakPark.com
 
Illinois Tourism, Think Outside the Deficit!
 
Every year, tourists fill the Oak Park area, exploring the 21 communities in west Cook County that Visit Oak Park represents. Discovering attractions like Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio, Hemingway Birthplace and Museum, Pleasant Home, Brookfield Zoo, Cernan Earth & Space Center or spending the afternoon shopping and dining at our area's small and large local businesses, visitors leave behind an economic impact that drives billions of dollars to the bottom line for the Oak Park area and the State of Illinois.
 
Right now, more than $2.5 billion in annual State of Illinois Tax revenue is threatened precisely at a time when Illinois can afford it least. However, this has not stopped the Illinois legislature and Governor Rauner from considering proposals to slash funding to the tourism industry.
 
As explained by the Illinois Council of Convention & Visitors Bureaus, "Using only a small portion of hotel tax revenue, not the tax revenue generated from Illinois residents, the state has reinvested the money spent by visitors. 
 
"In 2014, a record 107 million visitors came to Illinois, the fourth consecutive year for a new mark. Those people didn't show up by accident. They were drawn here in many ways, from incentives to conventions and trade shows, to advertising and marketing in the U.S. and across the world, to partnerships with local organizations." These are the very partnerships in which Visit Oak Park has been extensively involved in, and through funding, has been the financial foundation to many of our effective marketing efforts.
 
State funds used to promote our communities' attractions and businesses are now threatened in the proposed state budget. As reported by the ICCVB, "More than $30 million in hotel tax could be diverted away from drawing more visitors, and their spending and tax revenue, in a misguided effort to solve other problems."
 
These slashes in funding will be particularly devastating to Visit Oak Park. As one of the smallest Visitors Bureaus in the State of Illinois, tax dollars are the source of funding marketing and advertising campaigns to our area. Without them, we will not be able to promote our area as extensively, directly affecting our businesses, small and large, that are owned and staffed by members of our own community. The devastation to our area's businesses in losing these dollars is potentially unsettling. 
 
"Illinois was ahead of its time 30 years ago when it recognized the need to reinvest a portion of visitor spending to continue feeding this economic engine. Today there are very tough choices facing Illinois regarding next year's budget. 
 
But one easy choice that promises proven reward over risk is to continue the current funding for the visitor industry, and the billions that it will mean for the bottom line."
 
Support our local community by supporting Illinois Tourism. Think outside the deficit!
 
Visit Oak Park, not-for-profit 501©6 Founded in 1993 as the Oak Park Visitors Bureau, Visit Oak Park is a not-for-profit 501©6 organization dedicated to the promotion of tourism and destination marketing for Oak Park and 20 other communities in western Cook County. It provides valuable visitor information services through its website, www.VisitOakPark.com and the Visitors Center located at 1010 Lake Street in Oak Park.

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