CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) – The state of Illinois is seeing a bump in tourism this year, and it’s a breath of fresh air after people were told to stay home as the coronavirus started.

Taxes generated from tourism dollars went down last year, but the group Visit Champaign County said they are already seeing more visitors and jobs coming back this year.

Economic impact data shows more than 1,300 jobs were lost. Local tax revenue dropped by 17%, and direct spending went down almost 35%.

Jayne DeLuce is the president & CEO of visit Champaign County. She said in 2019, Champaign County was on a great track with tourism. In fact, she said it had the highest growth rate in the state, then the pandemic hit, and almost everywhere in the state took a hit.

DeLuce said what she’s seeing in Champaign County has her feeling optimistic for the future.

Every county in the state gets economic impact information from the year before. To no surprise, the travel and tourism industries took a hit last year.

“I think people are finding a way they can support our local businesses. This holiday season is the perfect time to experience local, shop local, eat local, and just get out and experience great things they have in our community. Since we didn’t get to do a lot of that last year I think people are more excited to be able to do it this year,” she said.

DeLuce said they are already seeing a significant increase in people staying in local hotels, and she believes those numbers will continue to climb.

Nationally, recovery from the pandemic isn’t expected until about 2024. DeLuce said she thinks Champaign County will see 2019 numbers much sooner.

Economic Impact of Domestic Travel by County:

Champaign County

Travel expenditures – $326 million (36.6% decrease)

Local tax revenue – $10.2 million (18.4% decrease)

Douglas County

Travel expenditures – $38.5 million (13.0% decrease)

Local tax revenue – $1.0 (9% decrease)

Moultrie County

Travel expenditures – $8.9 million (13.9% increase)

Local tax revenue – $0.4 million (no change)

Piatt County

Travel expenditures – $6.2 million (39.3% decrease)

Local tax revenue – $0.30 million  (25% increase)