ILLINOIS CELEBRATES MILE AFTER MAGNIFICENT MILE
Govenor Pat Quinn expresses the wealth of culture, history, nature & more to be discovered in the State
03-06-2012 By: Terrilyn Kunopaski
It’s been given nicknames such as Garden of the West, The Prairie State and The Land of Lincoln, but however you refer to it, Illinois has a wealth of tourism offerings and to share that message, representatives from the State visited Canada this week.
Govenor Pat Quinn joined travel trade representatives at The Hyatt Regency – Toronto for a luncheon sponsored by Starwood Hotels and Porter Airlines, where he emphasized the truth to the State’s campaign slogan, “Mile after magnificent mile.”
Quinn, who is the first Illinois governor to visit Canada in 15 years, said the purpose of his visit to Canada, and Toronto in particular, is to build connections.
“We both have great traditions of hospitality and welcomeness, making sure people feel at home – and there’s a lot of symmetry between the State of Illinois and the province of Ontario, and definitely, Toronto - our sister city - with the city of Chicago,” he explained.
The Govenor was joined by Jan Kostner, deputy director of the Illinois Bureau of Tourism’s.
“Canada has always been a very big market for the State of Illinois and actually, except for 2009 when nobody did really well in the tourism field, we’ve had gains ever since,” Kostner told TRAVELHotNews.com in an interview. “2010 and 2011 have seen strong growth.”
“One of the things we’ve been really talking about is that Illinois is authentic America; that you can get all the experiences – from the urban experiences of the big city: the theatre, the shopping, the dining – to Route 66 which has that iconic, kitschy, Americana with wonderful diners and the muffler men, and then you can get the history of the United States,” she explained.
“We believe that culture means business...If you’re looking for great theatre, lyric opera, the symphony – (we have) lots of culture,” Quinn told guests.
Four American presidents have roots in Illinois, including Abraham Lincoln and current President Barack Obama. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum offers travellers an experiential tour through the president’s life, located in the town of Springfield.
“We have more than 60 wineries that you can go and visit, you can buy their wines, you can taste their wines, and sometimes during the year, you can help harvest,” she said.
Birding is another niche market they are looking to grow because of the State’s ideal location on the migration trail of a number of species.
Of course, who can forget that Route 66 and the Mississippi River are among two of the most iconic sites to be found in the State.
Getting Canadians to the Land of Lincoln, Porter Airlines flies five times daily from Toronto Billy Bishop Airport to Chicago Midway International Airport.
And, increasing the State’s visibility in Canada, Chicago recently appointed Connect Worldwide to be its Canadian representation.
“We think it will only help us grow,” Kostner said. “The more that we have people out there talking about the city and the State, the more I think it’s going to grow and the more interest. I do believe that marketing works and inviting people to come visit you – if you’re not, then someone else comes in and is able to take that space so out of sight is out of mind - so I think it’s really going to help.”
So, what was the Govenor’s final message for Canadians?
“Whether it’s culture, whether it’s nature, whether it’s seeing people, shopping, we really look forward to welcoming you with open arms,” Quinn said.