Deer Valley….In recognition of her efforts to promote the tourism industry in the Sauk Valley region and across Illinois, the Blackhawk Waterways Convention and Visitors Bureau presented State Representative Tony McCombie (IL-71st) with the 2019 Friend of Tourism Award at their annual dinner this week.
“With Whiteside County being the host entity for our 2019 Annual Dinner, we felt that Representative McCombie was the perfect choice for our 2019 Friend of Tourism Award. She is a vocal advocate for her District, which includes Carroll & Whiteside Counties,” said Diane Bausman, Executive Director of Blackhawk Waterways. “She also understands the economic impact that tourism creates for our region. She supports continued state funding of tourism promotion and knows the value of marketing our area as a tourism destination and the dollars that visitors bring to our communities.”
According to statistics from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s (DCEO) Office of Tourism, in 2017 nearly 114 million people visited Illinois, supporting approximately 340,000 jobs statewide. Overall, tourism in Illinois is a $40 billion industry with an estimated $170 million in tourism dollars being spent in the four counties of Carroll, Lee, Ogle, and Whiteside that make up region Blackhawk Waterways region.
“In the last two budgets, legislators made the mistake of cutting tourism dollars. In fact, in last year’s budget nearly $60 million in tourism dollars was cut statewide,” said McCombie. “Despite these budget cuts, Illinois tourism numbers are actually growing. This growth is primarily the result of the advocacy of Blackhawk Waterways and all the convention and visitor bureaus (CVBs) across the state. I thank the Blackhawk Waterways Convention and Visitors Bureau for this award, and sincerely appreciate the work they do every day advocating for tourism and educating me so I can better represent the region.”
McCombie is a prior member of the House Tourism Committee. However, the committee was abolished in the current101st General Assembly. “I support the re-creation of the tourism committee and believe we have an obligation to do whatever we can to boost our state revenues by growing our tourism industry,” said McCombie.