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Illinois, Iowa tourism officials say COVID changed travel

(Left to right) Amy Zeigler, Dave Herrell, and Daniel Thomas.
(Left to right) Amy Zeigler, Dave Herrell, and Daniel Thomas.

People are taking more trips to Iowa and Illinois for leisure after the COVID pandemic.

That's according to the directors of the Iowa and Illinois offices of tourism. Daniel Thomas, from the Illinois office, says the pandemic changed how people travel.

"Lets face it, the last couple of years have changed the way, and the why, we travel," he said.

"Business travel, for example, we may not go to as many conferences, but we may go with our family, and we're looking to extend the stay, and that's another trend that we're seeing, leisure travel in Illinois, as a huge opportunity."

Amy Zeigler, from the Iowa office, says travellers are looking "off the beaten path" and taking shorter vacations closer to home.

Visit Quad Cities President Dave Herrell says tourism is back to pre-pandemic levels. Still, he says local government should invest more in it.

"For us to have similar budgets to smaller communities is something that we've got to work on holistically with our public sector partners to make sure that we are continually investing in the Quad Cities."

"Yes, we are a midwest destination, we are a drive-to market, and there are 37 million people that live within six hour radius points of the Quad Cities, but I firmly believe that we can do a lot more."

Last year, more than 111 million people visited Illinois, spending a total of $44 billion. In Iowa, visitors spent nearly $7 billion, that's a 13% increase from 2021.

Rachel graduated from Michigan State University's J-School and has a background in broadcast and environmental journalism. Before WVIK, she worked for WKAR Public Media, Great Lakes Now, and more. In her free time, she likes to cook, hike, and hang out with her cat.