December 2013    


We Wish You a Merry Christmas!


We wish…yes it’s that special time of year where we can enjoy the season, relax with family and friends, and reflect on the days gone by.  We honor traditions of the past, dream of the future and find contentment in the present (yes we always need presents).  Yes, this is a magical time of year.  So, we wish you all the best to you and yours…enjoy the season and find time for the reason for the season too!  So as the song continues…..

Mini-Abe Showcases Illinois


Maybe spontaneity is just exactly what Illinois needs more of as the state attempts to market its various attractions to tourists.

Illinois' current tourism ad campaign features a miniature statue of a familiar icon often associated with the state — Abe Lincoln. The Mini-Abe, as he has been dubbed for this ad campaign, is seen whizzing around Illinois to draw attention to some of the state's principal tourist activities and attractions.  That being said, we were fortunate to have the little guy visit us from Thanksgiving through December 8th…and it was an eventful time for the entire staff.  He carved the turkey, went wing walking, camped out and went horseback riding, holiday shopping, wine tasting along the wine trail, and of course traveled along the Lincoln Highway (named for him so he had to see it for himself), and even conducted a French horn performance, just to name a few of the activities. 

The Mini-Abe commercial that is the centerpiece of the campaign is not hugely-sophisticated advertising. But it's the kind of stuff that people can immediately relate to, thanks to its directness and the absence of pretension. Plus, using the theme of spontaneity is a good one, because that's how a lot of people approach vacationing, especially the briefer, long-weekend sort of getaways that many in-state residents take in the fall and early winter.

Check out our Facebook page and see some of the fun, and we’ll be showcasing some of his adventure pics on our website and in our 2014 visitor guide. We had a blast Mini-Abe, come back anytime



It's never too early to begin planning, especially when you can save money.  Mark Your Calendars for the Illinois Governor's Conference on Travel and Tourism, the state’s premier educational forum for the travel industry, and focuses on the importance of tourism as a tool for stimulating and continuing economic development within Illinois.  When? February 3-5, 2014.  Where? The luxurious Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago.  How much? Here is the best news, register before December 1st and get a special rate of $395 and register NOW and get entered for a pair of American Airline tickets (bonus).   To register, click here:

This year will bring together over 500 travel industry professionals.  Now more than ever, local, regional and state governments are seeing the importance of tourism in leading the way to economic growth and we need to band together to make sure that tourism dollars support bringing visitors into our hotels, restaurants and attractions in Illinois.

While you are in the spirit of saving money, why not book your accommodation at Palmer House Hilton at the same time! Registration for all attendees is now available and be sure to secure our pre-negotiated rates for you and your colleagues. Located centrally in Downtown Chicago, the Palmer House Hilton is no stranger to our conference and right in the heart of Chicago's Theatre district. This hotel will also be the host for the conference and organizers have also negotiated a special valet parking rate for all those who are driving to the city.

Governor's Conference Silent Auctions Needs Your HELP

And as always, one of the most anticipated conference activities is the Silent Auction, taking place on the expo floor.  Is an excellent way to highlight great designations to our audience of travel professionals.  Funds from the auction are used to support the educational components of the conferences, as well as awarding hospitality students with scholarships.  Heather Wilkins of the Land of Lincoln RTDO is coordinating this conference event and needs your assistance in auction prizes.  We are looking for overnight getaway packages, restaurant certificates, wine tastings, and attraction tickets…anything you can donate to create special offerings.  There is a form that can be found on our website, but you can also email Heather to have a Donation Form sent out.  Heather’s email is Deadline is December 19th, so let’s help get some fantastic prizes for the auction for this year’s event.  Thanks in advance for your assistance.

FY14 Co-Op Advertising Opportunity - Spring/Summer Getaway Guide


We have submitted our FY14 Marketing Partnership Grant. So, here is what we planned for co-op opportunities: 1.5 pages for Northern Illinois regional promotion in the 2014 Illinois Visitor Guide1 full page in the Winter/Holiday Getaway Guide (already dropped November), Spring/Summer Getaway Guide (dropping April 2014).  Deadline for ad space in the Spring/Summer Newspaper Insert closes in late-January 2014.  

We have learned that our award amount is at the 50/50, where you the local partners pay 50% of the ad costs and IBOT’s grant program pays for 50%.  The costs for the 1/6th page units are as follows:

                    Full Cost                             1/6th Page    
                    of 1/6th pg                         w/50-50 Grant
Spr/Sum        $3,178.84                          $1,589.42

The Winter/Holiday Insert dropped in early November and responses continue to arrive.  And the 2014 Illinois Travel Guide drops shortly after the new year – and responses will continue.  So, we are soliciting for ad space for our next opportunities, the 2014 Spring/Summer inserts. If interested, let us know if you are interested in holding a space – and remember the insert deadline is NOW!


Calendar of Events -

Illinois Tourism Happenings


December 24-25

   Christmas Holiday - Office Closed


December 31



January 1, 2014

   New Year Holiday - Office Closed


Jan 7-11

TSE 2014, Nashville


Jan 8-10

IL Specialty Crops, Agri-Tourism Workshop, Springfield


Feb 3-5

Illinois Governor's Conference on Tourism, Chicago


Feb 20

IL Farmers Market Assn, Chicagoland Farmers Market, Aurora


February 26-27

   Destination Capitol  Hill, Washington DC


April 5-9

USTravel Association's IPW, Chicago


Economic Impact From Tourism -

By Illinois Counties in Service Area


And as in the past, if you want to know how a specific county fared with its Tourism Economic Impact, just check out our website.  Under the button for Education & Resources, you will find the two-page PDFs for each of the counties in our designated service area, as well as a few adjourning areas.  The first page compares the specific county’s figures for 2012 to the Chicago & Beyond region and the State of Illinois.  And the reverse page reflects a 10-year history of the specific county.  There is also a compilation of Illinois Tourism Fast Facts that you can download as well. You can download them and provide the data to your partners, legislators, stakeholders, etc.  And we have compiled Economic Impact stats for two of our regional byway partners: the Illinois Lincoln Highway and the Illinois River Road.

JOLT - Jobs Originated Through Launching Travel


As follow up to the October ICCVB meeting, tourism partners are being asked to help gain support on legislation that would spur Illinois' economy and support jobs throughout Illinois and America: HR 1354, the "Jobs Originated Through Launching Travel" (JOLT) Act. The JOLT Act is a bipartisan solution that would harness the power of travel to create more jobs and economic opportunity in Illinois. You can help in harnessing the power of travel for your district by asking your Congressmen/women to co-sponsor the JOLT ACT.
Materials have been designed specifically for Illinois by the U.S. Travel Association that includes an overall travel stats document; an Illinois specific economic page; a page on the JOLT Act and Illinois specific info regarding Brand USA as well as a letter that can be used in addressing those Congressmen/women who have not signed on as co-sponsors to the JOLT Act. A big thanks to ICCVB’s Legislative Chairman Kimberly Bless for keeping our partners up to date on current happenings and actions to take.

2014 Visitor Guide

Our 2013 guide is the largest that we have ever produced.  The entire guide, all 72 pages and ads, were converted into a digital eGuide where this format allows the consumer to download the content, but also use the live links to partners websites.  Check it out at or from our website homepage.  If you need a case, email Mary and she will get it out for you.

Looking ahead, 2014 will be here before you know it and we are already updating content for the 2014 Visitor Guide.  We are continuing in the style and format established with the new regional publication.  Mary Peterson of our office is working on the content, and once again we are partnering with Wendy Tritt of Trittenhaus Design for the overall production and ad sales.  For info about ads please contact Wendy (  We are always seeking new photos for use in the guide and websites, please send images to Mary for use, and let us know if you have specific milestone events or attractions that we can and should highlight.  Your contact person for all things guide/website can be reached at

As been our practice, we continually research new websites that may be of interest to our regional partners.  Here are some websites for you to check out:

Illinois Tourism:


IL Magnificent Stuff Happens Here:


Chicago and Beyond:


Chicago Tourism:


US Travel Association:


Illinois Council of Convention & Visitors Bureaus:


Illinois Wine Industry:


Northern Illinois Wine Trail:


Power of Travel – info & stats:


Power of Travel Coalition:


National Scenic Byways:


Illinois Byways:

Illinois Film Locations:


Discover America: 


Traveling Green:

Destination Capitol Hill Returns


Destination Capitol Hill is the travel industry’s premier legislative fly-in. Travel professionals from across all segments of the industry converge on Washington, D.C. to speak directly to lawmakers about issues that impact the travel industry. Make your plans to be in Washington DC for February 26-27th.  Don’t miss the chance to:
•    Learn about upcoming legislation that impacts travel.
•    Mingle with key influentials and travel industry professionals.
•    Meet with Members of Congress to stress the importance of travel as an economic driver.

Destination Capitol Hill is your chance to make sure that Washington supports travel.  Congressional meetings will take place between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 27, 2014. Soapbox Consulting will schedule all appointments on Capitol Hill for our Destination Capitol Hill participants. Registrants will be contacted directly by Soapbox to discuss business locations, congressional relationships, and key offices. These calls will help us make the best use of your time on Capitol Hill.

Staff will be in attendance working with the National Scenic Byway Foundation, representing the 150 scenic byways through America.  Working alongside other byway leaders, we will be sharing the importance of the byways, especially the seven byways here in Illinois.

Registration will open in December. Early Bird rates are $95 through January 13, 2014 and then rise to $135.  The registration fee includes: Wednesday sessions and networking reception; Thursday morning networking breakfast and transportation to Capitol Hill; and pre-scheduled Thursday appointments on Capitol Hill (fee excludes hotel, travel, and personal expenses).

Illinois Wine


Raise a glass to, well, your glass! We have some FUN happenings coming along to celebrate the fabulous Illinois Wine.  And did you know, the Illinois wine industry has exploded in recent years, growing from just 12 wineries in 1997 to over 100 today? During this time, the acreage devoted to grape production has grown at a tremendous rate, with over 1,000 Illinois acres under vines. Today the Illinois wine industry creates a direct economic impact of more than $692 million annually.

IGGVA is the organization that works with the 100 wineries and vineyards in the state.  Did you know there are over 60 varietals of grapes grown here in Illinois?  Wine production has grown in Illinois from 356,500 gallons produced in 2007 to 651,800 gallons in 2012.   And soon we’ll be welcoming two new wineries into the region, new ones are planned in South Beloit and another in Antioch in 2014.

According to a report commissioned by IGGVA, wine and wine grapes had a $692 million economic impact in the state in 2012, more than double of the impact in 2007, when it was $318 million.  This includes $153 million in wages, which represents 3,887 full-time jobs. The industry saw 500,000 wine-related tourists in 2012 and paid $54 million in federal taxes and $34 million in state and local taxes. Illinois ranks 19th in the nation for gallons of wine produced.


We have moved to a new location, still in Belvidere.  If you have a chance, stop by and see us and our new space.  We are at 8200 Fairgrounds Road in Belvidere.  Phone, fax, email, etc. remain the same.


Website News


Our regional website is up and running.  The Calendar of Events is a great feature that constantly needs new content.  Please send our way events that you want to see listed on our site.  There is a button at the bottom of the page were you can Submit Changes or Additions.  This will take you to an online form where the information can be entered.  We have the ability to insert a PICTURE with your LISTING, so, we need pictures.  All pictures, which must have releases on file so they can be used, can be sent in a jpeg format to

Find Us and our Partners

on Facebook and Twitter


Check out the button labeled SOCIAL MEDIA on our website for links to our regional partners - to be listed, contact us.




Chicago & Beyond
200 South State Street
Belvidere, IL  61008


Phone/Fax 815.547.3740

Bonnie Heimbach, Exec. Dir.


Mary Peterson


Mary Jo