Pandemic and state ad campaign boost outdoor tourism | Local News

Pandemic and state ad campaign boost outdoor tourism | Local News

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Despite the state’s Department of Natural Resources closing its facilities in March 2020 to curb the spread of the virus, then reopening a select 60 sites May 1 and fully reopening May 29, a 6.23% increase in visitors was logged. 

According to IDNR spokesperson Rachel Torbert, state parks, recreation areas and historic sites recorded 28,451,056 visitors from June 2020 to December 2020.

The same seven-month period in 2019 saw 26,731,808 visitors. From Jan. 1 to April 30 this year, the IDNR has logged 6,175,900 visitors. 

“As you may have guessed, we’ve seen increased visitors at our state sites as many Illinoisans continue to look for ways to recreate with their families, which allow them to avoid crowds and traveling long distances,” Torbert said. 

Some expect in-state and regional travel to be popular for some time.

“I’m hearing that ‘staycations’ may be a trend for the next 10 or 20 years,” said Wes Gibson, owner of Pine Manor estates, a collection of 15 luxury rental homes in Jackson County. “People like having a great place to go that is still close to home.”

RV dealer Bush said getting people outside for safe, experiences has been something they have enjoyed.

“People are saying they are hooked and that they wished they would have tried camping years ago,” he said.

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