CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Recent data shows a significant increase in travel and tourism in Champaign County in 2021, bringing a strong positive economic impact to the community.

Visit Champaign County reported that in 2021, travel and tourism supported 4,171 jobs, a 14.2% increase, generating $133.4 million in payroll, a 21.4% increase. A total of $13.6 million in local taxes, a 12.5% increase, were generated through $489.7 million in visitor spending, a 21% increase.

The counties supported by Visit Champaign County include Champaign, Douglas, Moultrie, and Piatt.

“It is very encouraging to see the positive trends in our local travel data after only returning to our sales and marketing efforts in fall of 2021,” said Jayne DeLuce, President & CEO of Visit Champaign County. “This is a testament to the importance of marketing our community and sharing the outside of ordinary amenities, facilities, and events that visitors and residents alike can enjoy.”

The data, provided by Tourism Economics on behalf of the Illinois Office of Tourism, helps Visit Champaign County see a better glimpse of the different segments of the community, including lodging, food and beverage, recreation, and retail.

“Bringing visitors to this area not only helps our local businesses and attractions grow and thrive, but it also benefits quality of life for area residents,” said DeLuce. “While we did see a tremendous recovery in 2021, we are still short of pre-pandemic levels where we were leading in growth across the state.”

Jobs supported by travel and tourism are down 15.1% from 2019, and overall visitor spending is down 16.5%.

“It`s important to remember where we were in 2021,” said DeLuce. “New variants continued to force shutdowns late in 2021 and disrupt events that make significant impacts on our area.”

While 2022 numbers won’t be available until fall of 2023, DeLuce said she expects the positive trend to continue.