Be A Backyard Tourist

Are you as ready for summer as I am? I think I know the answer to that.

by Jan Wright, Publisher

This past winter felt exceedingly long, while spring brought excessive rainfall and flooding—thwarting our efforts to get a new cover photo for this issue. (Go “behind the scenes” for the scoop.) With numerous cancelled events due to inclement weather, we’re reminded of the importance of tourism dollars to our community.  

In Peoria County alone, travel expenditures of more than $345 million accounted for nearly $8 million in local tax revenue in 2017, according to the Illinois Office of Tourism. Nearly 5,000 jobs in the Greater Peoria area are due to visitor spending. That’s quite an impact.

Our region is fortunate to have a wealth of recreational and cultural amenities attracting these visitors—but there is another side to tourism as well. “It’s important that we encourage our locals to explore their own backyard and become cheerleaders for the Peoria area,” notes Don Welch, president and CEO of the Peoria Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. “If you have friends or family visiting, show them why the Peoria area is a great place to live. Positivity spreads like wildfire!”

For locals, it’s easy to take all this for granted: the riverfront, the ballpark, the museum, the zoo, the Civic Center… the list goes on and on. But move to a place without these attractions and you’ll surely notice their absence. These are the things that make our region unique and vibrant.

I remember when you could count the number of fine dining restaurants in Peoria on a single hand. Craft distilleries and local brewpubs were virtually unheard of. Today, we see escape rooms, trampoline parks and axe-throwing establishments joining their more traditional counterparts as regional attractions. Tomorrow… who knows?

From arts and entertainment, to shopping and dining, to sports and recreation, Peoria truly has it all. So this summer, become a backyard tourist—and see your community through new eyes. PM