This project documented and evaluated the tourism assets in three counties surrounding the Quad Cities in northwestern Illinois. It provided an assessment of the economic impact from tourism on expenditures at local businesses and on government tax revenue, included a market analysis of the opportunity for new hotel development in the area, and laid out a strategy of marketing and asset development to increase visitation. Recommendations were grouped around several themes:

Specialty shopping and dining centered on the historic Bishop’s Hill colony and the downtown districts in Geneseo and Aledo. While too small individually to sustain a downtown revitalization program, these and other communities could collaborate to create a program with responsibilities for revitalizing all of the districts.

Outdoor recreation opportunities abound along the Hennepin Canal, at Johnson-Sauk Trail State Park, at Big River State Forest, and other sites. Many of these require further development to provide the amenities and wayfinding that visitors expect.

The Great River Road and Historic Route 6 both cross the region and carry thousands of annual visitors. Many assets lie along, or within close proximity to these routes. Better signage and marketing is needed to capture this missed opportunity.

Tourism pays a significant return of nearly $1 million in taxes paid on purchases, services, and lodging in the three counties. Nearly 1,000 jobs are directly supported by tourism expenditures from an estimated 430,000 annual visitors who spend $50.2 million at area businesses. Every additional 1,000 visitor trips that can be generated will result in an additional $249,400 in spending and 3.36 new jobs for area residents.

Marketing strategies that will have the greatest impact include a highway campaign utilizing interstate signage, wayfinding, and billboards, onsite kiosks and literature distribution to cross-promote destinations, partnering with other tourism organizations, developing print and electronic collateral material targeting specific activities such as hiking or birdwatching, and developing an integrated web and mobile application.




Project Report

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