CHICAGO (WREX) — Governor JB Pritzker Wednesday joined the Illinois Office of Tourism and industry leaders to kick off “Time for Me to Drive,” a new campaign to promote the return of travel across the state.
The State of Illinois is encouraging residents and visitors to get out and enjoy Illinois’ diverse communities and scenic landscapes safely.
The campaign features the hit song, “Time for Me to Fly,” by Illinois native rock band, REO Speedwagon. In spots, travelers change the nostalgic song’s lyrics from fly to drive, underscoring the excitement shared by many that after over a year of the pandemic, it is now time to venture out and experience everything Illinois has to offer.
New research indicates that over 70 percent of Americans are ready to return to travel, up nearly 20 percentage points since the start of the year, and that many favor road trips. Since the pandemic began, it’s estimated that more than two-thirds of Americans have taken a road trip. Additionally, industry experts have consistently recommended road trips to help consumers feel comfortable in light of the ever-changing nature of the pandemic.
In addition to the $6 million campaign, the Illinois Office of Tourism is working with convention and visitor bureau (CVB) partners statewide to gain feedback on how the state can support renewed business for their communities. DCEO has also launched extensive stakeholder engagement around tourism recovery initiatives, bringing CVBs as well as industry groups to the table to gain input on how to best reinvigorate travel and the revenues visitors bring to the state.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, tourism was identified by the Pritzker administration as a hard-hit industry, prompting State of Illinois relief funds to be prioritized for tourism and tourism-related businesses. As a result, $75 million went to tourism and tourism-related businesses as part of the Business Interruption Grant program, with an additional $133 million for restaurants and bars statewide.
With the recent passage of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) the Administration is again exploring additional opportunities to address the needs of tourism businesses facing continued losses due to COVID-19.