CHAMPAIGN, Ill., (WCIA) — With the large number of people visiting Champaign-Urbana for Theatre Fest and Illini Athletics events, hotels are feeling the impact.

Damian Thomas, an assistant general manager at the Marriott TownePlace, said it’s helping them bounce back after a smaller number of visitors during COVID. They’re sold out this weekend with five high school groups staying there, plus Illini fans from the basketball game.

He said he’s thankful to have so many people back and interact with students again. But, he also knows it benefits more than just campus.

“It not only helps the local businesses around the area but say for instance, U of I. It’s very big, they’re very forthcoming on all their different types of events that they have,” Thomas said. “Having all these kids come back, it’s very exciting for not only them but us as a staff.”

He said weekends like this are good exposure for high schoolers. He’s grateful for all the chaperones during weekends like this. Chaperones help out with students, making it a bit easier to manage such large groups.