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$1B spent by visitors to Lake County last year

Lake County ConventiVisitors Bureau  President Maureen Riedy talks about upturn visitors dollars.  |  Sun-Times Medifile

Lake County Convention and Visitors Bureau President Maureen Riedy talks about the upturn in visitors dollars. | Sun-Times Media file

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Updated: November 27, 2012 10:31AM

GURNEE — Visitors to Lake County spent $1.13 billion here last year, Maureen Riedy, president of Visit Lake County, told the Gurnee Village Board Monday night.

Riedy said that was an increase of 6.6 percent from 2010 to 2011, the latest tallied figures.

Riedy, whose office is in Gurnee, attended the board meeting to provide trustees with an annual update on her organization, formerly known as the Lake County Convention and Visitors Bureau, and plant some subtle seeds for continued funding in the 2013-2014 fiscal budget to be developed early next year.

She said visitors from outside Lake County last year provided $24 million in local taxes, $67.6 million in state taxes, and provided jobs for nearly 10,000 residents of Lake County.

Gurnee, as a major visitor destination, is a major funding contributor to Visit Lake County, having committed to a contribution of $124,700 this year, or the estimated 20 percent of the hotel-motel tax collected, and $93,398 the previous year.

The state provides over a million dollars, and an alliance of 11 local communities and 200 business and industry partners provide additional financial support.

Riedy told trustees that she and her staff of seven are enjoying a productive year, and she thanked Trustee Cheryl Ross for serving as the organization’s vice chair of the board.

The recent National Girls Soccer Championships at Waukegan Sports Park attracted 275 teams from across the country and used more than 7,000 local hotel rooms. Riedy said a major BMW Golf Championship is already booked here for next year.

Naval Station Great Lakes’ weekly basic training graduations and popular military reunions continue to be ongoing events here, as are sales meetings and group conventions at various hotels throughout the county.

Riedy said sales leads for future group business is up seven percent so far this year, with 42 percent of them now definitely committed to bringing their group to Lake County. Hotel occupancy is up three percent from the last year at 64 percent.

Riedy said her organization’s basic mission is to attract tourism and bring group meetings to Lake County that will boost the local economy. They do that by using a variety of communications, marketing and public relations skills and techniques, she said.

Mayor Kristina Kovarik thanked Riedy for her efforts. “You put us on the map. We can’t put a dollar value on our relationship. You and your staff just do a great job and we appreciate it,” Kovarik said.

Riedy replied that cooperative partnerships make for mutual success. “We have enjoyed a great relationship with Gurnee for more than 20 years. It’s all about working together and promoting successful branding of our attractions to entice visitors to visit our county,” she said.

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