Tourism on the rise in Illinois

By Arnold Wyrick - bio | email

FRANKLIN COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - Tourism numbers and dollars are up in the Land of Lincoln.

That's according to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, which is reporting an increase of five percent in tourism for the 2010 fiscal year, over the previous year.

But are Illinoisans traveling out of state for a vacation this Summer, or staying close to home?

"Pretty much a stay-cation for me and the family this year. Gas prices are just ridiculous," said James Ragan of West Frankfort.

"There's a lot of places around here, like yesterday we were at Kinkaid Lake swimming and having fun. ANd today we decided to come out here to South Marcum Beach on Rend Lake and have a good time."

Just up the lake at Wayne Fitzgerald State Park there are plenty of camping spaces available throughout the campgrounds.

And some campers are choosing to leave the big rigs at home this year.

"It's a stay-cation for us this year," said Cynthia Jagers of Bonnie.

"The price of gas is way too high. I just filled the truck up and it was $39.00, and that was just a half-a-tank. That's too much money."

But, Jagers says if gas prices were to come down and make a vacation more affordable, she and her husband would hit the road.

"If the prices would come down, we're adventurous we'd go. But there's no sense in paying that much money when you can have just as much fun here."

And many families were doing just that on Saturday afternoon at Rend Lake, having a picnic lakeside or building sand castles and swimming.

"For me it's going to be a stay-cation this year because I live here," said Julia Mayberry of Benton.

"But for my family who lives in Indiana it's a vacation for them because they're coming here."

And that seems to be the choice a lot of people are making, taking their vacations in the Land of Lincoln.

According to a report from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Chicago remains the state's tourism engine attracting more than 38-million of the state's 85-million visitors last year.

Those visitors added up to more than $29-billion in tourism in 2010, and generating more than $2-billion over the previous year.

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