Rockford tourism

Ben Jacobson/CC 2.5

Tourism revenue in Rockford and Winnebago County reached an all-time high last year.

Data from the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau reports visitors spent $353 million and generated $6.2 million in local sales tax. Their data also says tourism spending in Winnebago County rose by 39% since 2009. This was second only to growth in Chicago and Cook County.

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

19,000 visitors are expected to swoop into the Rockford area, starting this weekend. Four major national conventions and events are underway.

Most of them are attending the annual convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses over the next three weekends at the BMO Harris Bank Center. But thousands of trappers also are expected at the Winnebago County Fairgrounds: It’s the 58th annual National Trappers Association convention, congregating in the region for the first time.

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The multi-purpose indoor athletic facility under construction in downtown Rockford got a financial boost and a new name Thursday, thanks to UW Health.

What originally was called the Downtown Sportscore now will be known as the UW Health Sports Factory.

The parent company of Rockford’s SwedishAmerican Health System will pay roughly $1.9 million over a 10-year period to have its name and logo emblazoned on the building and various associated materials.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Visitors to Winnebago County spent more than $319 million dollars last year at hotels, restaurants and other local businesses. According to a news release from the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, that's down slightly from 2012.

Tourism officials say there were 6.7 million visitors in the region during 2013, up slightly from the year before.