Visitor spending in Rockford and Winnebago County reached an all-time high of $383.7 million in 2017, an increase of 8.3 percent over 2016. The increase in visitor spending put an additional 196 people to work in new tourism industry jobs, with spending now supporting 3,084 jobs countywide (an increase of 6.9 percent) and $93.8 million in payroll (up 9.6 percent).
An analysis of visitor spending since 2009 shows that tourism continues to grow faster in Winnebago County than all other metro areas in Illinois. From 2009 to 2017, visitor spending in Winnebago County grew 51 percent; with local growth outpacing 12 other large counties and much faster than the set average of 35 percent.
Winnebago County’s share of its state competitive set (essentially counties that contain similar sized cities) has increased to 18.0% in 2017 from 16.3% in 2009 and 17.3 percent in 2016.
In addition to spending and employment increases, visitors are also generating increased funds for local and state tax coffers. In 2017, visitors paid $21.8 million in state and $6.78 million in local tax receipts (up 14.3 percent and 8.5 percent). Visitor expenditure, tax revenue and employment data comes from the U.S. Travel Association and the Illinois Department of Commerce.
“Winnebago County and the Rockford region is a great place to invest, visit and live,” said Winnebago County Chairman, Frank Haney. “Tourism numbers continue to impress as does primary job growth at our Chicago Rockford Internation