We pass popular tourist sites such as the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum (ALPLM) every day; we may not even think of how it supports our community. But the ALPLM and others like the Dana-Thomas House, Old State Capitol, our fabulous locally owned restaurants, and the many valued retailers are the backbone of Springfield, Illinois. These places define our community, provide our families with jobs and have given us, and thousands of annual visitors, a lifetime of memories.
Travel and tourism matter, and they improve Springfield in ways that have a wide-reaching impact on residents. Travel and tourism support 3,400 jobs in Sangamon County, and also have an influence that we do not always see: travel can strengthen families, foster hometown pride, and build bridges that connect us with one another.
At the national level, travel is critical to the US economy and American jobs. As a leader in workforce development and career advancement–travel creates and supports 15.7 million jobs across the US – making it the seventh-largest private sector employer. In 2018, traveler spending generated $171 billion in total tax revenue, including $78.6 billion in state and local revenue. That $78.6 billion can pay for a host of critical resources: it’s more than enough to pay all state and local police and firefighters, or the more than one million public high school teachers.
Travel and tourism are powerful for cities and states, and Springfield is no exception. Last year, Springfield saw $9 million in local tax receipts directly from travel and tourism with visitors generating $450 million in spending in Sangamon County. The 3,400 jobs created by the travel and tourism industry locally converts to $107 million in payroll.
Think back to your first job. Maybe you worked at Knight’s Action Park as a life guard, or maybe your kids work there now. For many - one third of Americans to be exact - travel and tourism are the front door to a promising career. Americans whose first job in travel and tourism have an average career salary of $81,900, and two in five of those whose first job was in travel or tourism are now earning more than $100,000.
Think about how tourism matters to the Cozy Dog Drive-in on Historic Route 66: travel-dependent leisure and hospitality is the largest small business employer in the US.
How can you embrace tourism you ask? “Be a tourist in your hometown!” When was the last time you enjoyed the sites and attractions of Springfield? Visiting our amazing historic sites and attractions, enjoying a new restaurant, spending the afternoon outdoors at Lincoln Memorial Gardens or Adams Wildlife Sanctuary or taking in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum are great ways to “Relax, reconnect and discover” and what makes Springfield “Always Legendary.” While out on your adventures, don’t forget to #visitspringfield and share the treasures of our city with friends on social media.
Start your journey at the Springfield Visitor’s Center located in the Lincoln Herndon Law Office at 1st S. Old State Capitol Plaza and treat yourself to the full experience of Springfield, through the visitors’ eyes.