Illinois hotels surpass pre-pandemic record for hotel revenue and tourism growth

Have you hit the road or stayed at a hotel in Illinois recently? If so, you're part of the reason the state's reporting record-breaking tourism & hotel revenue
Published: Jul. 12, 2023 at 4:18 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 12, 2023 at 5:11 PM CDT
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MARION, Ill. (KFVS) - Illinois Governor JB Pritzker recently announced record-breaking hotel revenue and tourism growth.

On Monday, July 10, Pritzker said the revenues from state hotels in fiscal year 2023 were more than $307 million, surpassing the pre-pandemic record in 2019, which was more than $296 million.

Locally, people are seeing increased numbers after the pandemic.

Ashlee Spiller, the executive director for VisitSI, said southern Illinois hotels are noticing more rooms being booked due to business travel, tourism and local sporting events.

“In the last 12 months we’ve had 240,000 rooms booked within Williamson County. That was at the end of May. So I’m sure through the end of June it’s a lot more than that,” said Spiller.

Spiller said that generates nearly $24 million. She also said occupancy rates are around 5 percent less than what they were in 2019.

Kevin Sylwester is an economics professor at Southern Illinois University. He said the record-breaking numbers are part of the natural recovery from the pandemic.

“Inflation is pushing up prices, it’s pushed up prices for many different types of goods and services including hotels,” said Sylwester. “So part of the increase in hotel revenue that’s being recorded is just due to price increases.”

Sylwester said they are not where they were in 2019, both with the number of tourists or with the revenue generated because of tourism.

“This is not something that turns on a dime. Recoveries take time. And overall it’s a good sign that things are moving in the right direction, but it’s not something that’s magical either. It’s not this huge bump up that indicates something above and beyond what we would have expected,” said Sylwester.

While the occupancy rate isn’t where it was a handful of years ago, Spiller said she believes we will get back to pre-COVID numbers.

“Oh, it definitely will and there are more events planned in the near future that we really hope to promote to everyone and we’re so excited for this area, the growth is expanding faster than we can talk,” said Spiller.

In 2022, the state of Illinois had more than 111 million visitors who spent more than $44 billion in the state.