About 114 million people visited Illinois last year, setting a new state record. That’s according to the latest state tourism data released on Tuesday.

According to the numbers, that’s roughly two million more people than the year before. In all, travelers spent $40 billion of their dollars on Illinois hotels, restaurants, and attractions.

That gave local governments and the state a cut of about $3 billion in tax money.

Ross Beach / WNIJ

There seems to be a growing taste for homegrown spirits in the DeKalb area. Now a family-run distillery is looking to expand.

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.

Project Time Off

Travel agencies across the country are promoting January 31 as National Plan for Vacation Day.  

The move was spurred by a U.S. Travel Association study that showed people are taking fewer vacation days than in years past.  It said that, between 1976 and 2000, people used 20.6 vacation days on average.  However, in 2015, that average dropped to 16.2 days.  Debbie Armstrong, Executive Director of the DeKalb County Convention and Visitors Bureau, says this lack of time off can have negative effects.  

Wisconsin Department of Transportation

Wisconsin could make billions of dollars if the state started charging tolls for drivers to use its interstate highways. That’s according to a recent study.

Tourism Dollars In Northern Illinois: A Closer Look

Aug 27, 2016

Tourism contributed $3 billion to Illinois in 2015.  That's according to preliminary numbers released by the US Travel Association.    Northern Illinois captured a decent portion of that money, but four counties in particular stand out. 

The Suburbs

At $458 million, Kane County captured the greatest share of tourist dollars.  Lula Cassidy of the Greater St. Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau says the area benefits from many Chicago visitors.  St. Charles in particular makes up half of the county’s hotel tax receipts.

Lincoln Was Here: Connecting The Dots In Northern Illinois

Apr 22, 2015
Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Abraham Lincoln died 150 years ago. He was shot while attending a play at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. Tourists to Illinois often head to Springfield to learn more about the 16th President. That’s not the only place to learn about his life and legacy. Susan Stephens and Jenna Dooley set out to trace his steps across northern Illinois.

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.