January 2014    


2014 Chicago & Beyond Visitor Guide!


Our 2014 visitor guide is done and with a break in the cold temps, we are hoping for delivery next Monday, February 3.   We appreciate the support of our regional partners as we updated content and images, and are in the process of making sure all new info is added to website. We are continuing in the style and format established with the new regional publication, putting the entire region into three smaller areas.  And the entire guide, all 72 pages and ads, will be 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 www.vacationfun.com or from our website homepage…it should be live in a few weeks.

Now for delivery! As soon as the truck hits Belvidere we will be sending cases out.  If you want to receive a case or two, please send an email to Mary at our office (mary@chicagoandbeyond.com) and we’ll make sure we get your requests added to the total.  The guides are also being sent out to the TICs as well and will be appearing in the Visitor information Kiosks at the Tollway Oases.

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. 

You can 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. But, we are now working on regional videos of Mini-Abe.  Working with a talented college student, we have put together several videos to date…and we’d like to add in more of your images if you are willing to share.  We’d like to create videos for our byways…and while we have a few shots of Mini-Abe along the Lincoln Highway, we sure would love more to add in since it travels through so many CVB partner regions.  And the same with Illinois River Road and Route 66, we’d love to have fun videos to share on social media.  Also, we’d love to do several on the Northern Illinois Wine Trail….we’ve covered the wineries close to us, but would love to see pics of him at some of the other locations.  If you have pictures to share, please reach out to Mary (mary@chicagoandbeyond.com).

2014 Illinois Governor's Conference on Tourism



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? NEXT Week….February 3-5, 2014.  Where? The luxurious Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago.  Will we see you there?

Jen Hoelzle has announced the Lincoln Awards finalists for 2014! The Lincoln Awards honor unsung heroes of the Illinois tourism industry who make traveling to the Land of Lincoln so extraordinary. All nominees are “behind the scenes stars” that go above and beyond for the tourism industry – simply because they are passionate about Illinois. The people and personalities that make up Illinois are our greatest asset, and we are honored to recognize these 15 wonderful individuals for their contribution to the industry’s success.  We will honor all nominees and announce the winners at the Illinois Governor’s Conference on Travel and Tourism during the Illinois Excellence in Tourism Awards Dinner.  Here is the full list of finalists and award categories and IOT is using the Olympic theme this year:

ICE HOCKEY GOLD MEDAL - Awarded to a team player who fights hard to better his or her community.

Cindy Vassell, Owner, Pickwick Society Tea Room         
Cindy is the heart and soul of not only the Pickwick Society Tea Room, but also the historic downtown Frankfort. She has worked tirelessly to build up the community’s downtown businesses. The Pickwick is the number one rated tearoom in Illinois because of the destination’s variety of teas and Cindy’s charming service.

Julie Hubbard, Owner, Julie's Corner Store          
Julie has been a huge advocate for Lacon and helps make the town a great tourist destination. She continually helps to recruit other business owners to open locations in her community, which creates more opportunities and retail options for visitors and residents alike.

Jay Allen, Owner, ShawCraft Sign Company
Jay consistently goes "above and beyond" on every project he is a part of for the Illinois Lincoln Highway Coalition. He freely dedicates his own time and resources to projects and connections that help enrich the Illinois Lincoln Highway experience for visitors.

SPEED SKATING GOLD MEDAL – Awarded to an individual who has helped grow a significant tourist attraction in a short time period.

Larry Buss, Resident Manager, C.H. Moore Homestead, DeWitt County Museum 
Guests never enter the DeWitt County Museum without a warm greeting from Larry Buss. Not only is he friendly and charismatic, but he is also very knowledgeable of both the home that he manages at the museum and the communities of Clinton and DeWitt County. Community members admire Larry’s work ethic and the great hospitality he shows toward others.

Jan Seeley & Mike Lindemann, Directors, Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon
Jan and Mike are integral in running the biggest locally-owned event in Champaign County. Their efforts have helped significantly grow the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon over the last 5 years. Year-long dedication from Jan and Mike has led to 9,000 participants in a 5K, half- and full-marathon and relay in 2009 to over 21,000 runners in the 5K, 10K, half- and full-marathon as well as a youth run in 2013, with 48 states and 10 countries represented.

Shelly Larson, Superintendent, Downtown Services - Danville
Shelly  continually dedicates her time and energy to the city of Danville. She has assisted with a number of tourism improvements in downtown Danville, which has instilled a sense of pride in Danville citizens and made the downtown area a growing destination for visitors. Her tireless work is selfless and goes way beyond what her job requires. 

CROSS COUNTRY SKIING GOLD MEDAL – Awarded to an individual who shows an unyielding commitment to bettering the Illinois tourism industry

Billie Limacher, Director, Bicentennial Park
At 93 years young, Billie continues to run the show at Billie Limacher Bicentennial Park in downtown Joliet – literally. Since 1973, Billie has been in charge of scheduling hundreds of events annually that bring in thousands of visitors to the Joliet area. Her positivity and limitless energy shines through her work and radiates to all those who have the pleasure of meeting Billie.

Pietro Verone, Owner, Villa Verone Restaurant    
Pietro is the image of what many believe a business owner should be. His passion and charisma shine through in his work, as he makes it his mission to ensure that his customers feel special. Through learning their names and favorite foods, even creating special menu items for customers, Pietro shows how much he truly cares about them. 

Tom Carmichael, River Tour Director, Chicago Architecture Foundation 
As Tour Director, Tom makes it his goal to ensure his river docents and trainees feel important and acknowledged. He praises river docents for outstanding efforts, keeps them updated on all river news, and is helpful in finding solutions whenever any issues arise. What’s more, Tom conducts two river cruises a week and consistently receives rave reviews from tour-goers.

SKI JUMPING GOLD MEDAL – Awarded to an individual who isn’t afraid to take risks to achieve new heights.

Chef Ken Myszka, Founder, Epiphany Farms Enterprise
Chef Ken takes a creative approach to culinary and agriculture tourism, helping to propel the farm-to-table concept in central Illinois. He founded the foundation for Epiphany Farms Enterprise in 2009, with a mission to create a diversified, pasture-based food system through sustainable, organic farming. Chef Ken has since created a fresh, seasonal menu for Station Two Twenty and offers tours of Epiphany Farms, attracting hundreds to the region.

Ron Onesti, President, Onesti Entertainment Corporation/Arcada Theatre
Ron has provided both leadership and insight to the Board of Directors at the Greater St. Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau for several years. He also invested more than $250,000 toward the renovation of the Arcada Theatre, restoring and revitalizing it as a destination for concert-goers and live entertainment enthusiasts.

Christina Anderson-Heller, Marketing and Public Relations Director, Lynfred Winery         
Christina is not only passionate about her community, but also the service and efforts that go behind making guests feel special at Lynfred Winery. She tirelessly promotes Illinois Wine Tourism, through hospitality and embracing of social media, promoting all things Lynfred, all things wine and all things tourism.

FIGURE SKATING – Awarded to an individual who pays special attention to detail to ensure perfect marks for every visitor.

Jason Campbell, Bell Captain, KeyLime Cove Indoor Waterpark Resort
Jason Campbell does his absolute best to make guests feel comfortable and appreciated. By providing them with everything from current events and special hotel promotions to the day's weather if they are going to Six Flags—he is always helpful in providing the best information to make sure they have a great experience. It’s no wonder that Jason and his team finished number one out of the 45 categories measured on the resort's 2013 Guest Satisfaction Survey.

Jim and Sandy Belote, Owners, The Beall Mansion
Jim and Sandy offer outstanding visitor service to those seeking a getaway at the Beall Mansion. From greeting guests in a tuxedo to offering a chocolate buffet, the Belote’s epitomize going above and beyond. The duo also work outside of The Beall Mansion with the local CVB to offer discounts or comps, which draws travel writers and other VIPs to the region.

Patty Gregory, Founder, Art on the Square           
Patty  is both the creator and executor of the “Art on the Square” event in Belleville. Since its establishment, the event has won national acclaim as the number one art show two years in a row in the United States by Art Fair Source. The show has also received accolades for the financial awards given to the artists and for attendance totaling approximately 80,000 people.

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.

ICCVB Legislative News


The 98th General Assembly, both the members of House and Senate, will return on January 29th.  This is the same day as the Governor's "State of the State" address.  LRB Request Deadlines House and Senate: February 1 and Bill introductions, House and Senate February 14.  Every bill and amendment introduced is reviewed for potential impact on ICCVB members and tracked throughout the session.

And, mark your calendars, ICCVB, the Illinois Hotel - Lodging Association and the Illinois Restaurant Association will be jointly sponsoring an industry Lobby Day. It will take place on Wednesday, March 5 in Springfield. More details to follow shortly, but we will need your support to make this effort successful.

Two other key dates to keep in mind are March 18 for the Illinois Primary Election and then  make sure you are watching, viewing or listening on March 19 for the Governor's Budget Address.


Calendar of Events -

Illinois Tourism Happenings


February 3-5

Illinois Governor's Conference on Tourism, Chicago


February 12

  Holiday - Office Closed!  Lincoln's Birthday


February 17

Holiday - Office Closed!  President's Day


February 20

IL Farmers Market Assn,

Chicagoland Farmers Market Workshop, Aurora


February 24

Creative Economy Roundtable, Chicago


February 26-27

   Destination Capitol  Hill, Washington DC


March 5

ICCVB Lobby Day, Springfield


March 20

IL Farmers Market Assn,

Farmers Market Workshop, Rockford


April 5-9

USTravel Association's IPW, Chicago


New Collaborations -

Tourism and Culture


On behalf of the Office of the Governor, and in partnership with the Center for Governmental Studies at Northern Illinois University, a new statewide initiative has been developed, the Illinois Creative Economy Roundtable.  Co-chairs for this project are Jen Hoelzle, IOT Deputy Director, Ra Joy, Executive Director for the Art Alliance Illinois and David Hawkanson, Executive Director for the Steppenwolf Theatre Company.
Illinois needs new ideas to ensure that culture becomes a more integral part of the state’s overall tourism and economic development agenda. In the year ahead, the Creative Economy Roundtable will develop a focused set of recommendations on policies, initiatives, and investments needed to support and grow Illinois' creative economy.  The creative economy drives commerce and tourism and supports thousands of Illinois workers…from filmmakers, performers to curators to chefs, artists and architects.  Recognizing that the creative economy required industry specific strategies to grow, the Creative Economy Roundtable is charged with recommending changes in positive programs and practices to grow jobs and creative enterprises across the state.
C&B is excited to be working with the other TDO directors and state partners on this initiative…and will share more info as it becomes available.

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 info@chicagoandbeyond.com.

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:  www.enjoyillinois.com


IL Magnificent Stuff Happens Here:



Chicago and Beyond:  www.chicagoandbeyond.com


Chicago Tourism:  www.choosechicago.org


US Travel Association:  www.ustravel.org


Illinois Council of Convention & Visitors Bureaus: www.iccvb.org


Illinois Lincoln Highway Coalition:  www.drivelincolnhighway.com


Illinois Wine Industry:  www.illinoiswine.com


Northern Illinois Wine Trail:  


Power of Travel – info & stats:  www.poweroftravel.org


Power of Travel Coalition:  www.travelcoalition.org


National Scenic Byways:  www.byways.org


Illinois Byways:  www.illinoisbyways.org

Illinois Film Locations:  www.onscreenillinois.com


Discover America:  www.discoveramerica.com 


Traveling Green:  www.travelgreen.org

Find Us and our Partners

on Facebook, Twitter, and now YouTube


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

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. Below is a link to see the most up to date list of Congressmen/women that have signed on as co-sponsors. If your legislator is not on the list, please contact them ASAP to encourage them to sign on as a co-sponsor.
http://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/1354/cosponsors?q=%7B%22cosponsor-state%22%3A%22Illinois%22%7D . A big thanks to ICCVB’s Legislative Chairman Kimberly Bless for keeping our partners up to date on current happenings and actions to take.

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.


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 26-27.  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 C
apitol 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 opened in December, and is currently $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).


Chicago & Beyond
8200 Fairgrounds Road
Belvidere, IL  61008


Phone/Fax 815.547.3740

Bonnie Heimbach, Exec. Dir.



Mary Peterson



Mary Jo Coleman





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