Local vacation destination economy improving slightly - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Local vacation destination economy improving slightly


GALENA, Ill. (KWWL) -- After one of the worst years on record for the Jo Daviess County tourism industry, business is now picking up.

According to Celestino Ruffini, director of sales and marketing for the Galena and Jo Daviess County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), 2008 was one of the best tourism years on record, followed by one of the worst in 2009.

"We're doing better than we did in 2009," Ruffini said. "The last four months of 2010 were up, compared to 2009."

However, Ruffini said this local vacation destination is not yet out of the woods.

"People are still booking at the last minute. People are taking shorter trips," Ruffini said.

Despite the prevailing economic caution, "we've had the largest request for visitors guides that we've had in a relative period of time," Jess Farlow said. He is a Galena innkeeper and the chair of the Galena and Jo Daviess County CVB.

Farlow attributes some of the slight improvement in tourism in 2010 to new and improved CVB marketing strategies, which include an emphasis on agro-tourism.

Ruffini said the CVB likely won't see a full recovery of the tourism industry until some time next year.

"Through the rest of this year, we expect business to be steady, to increase in slight," Ruffini said, "but, really, it will probably be this time, summer of 2011, until we begin to see, especially, double-digit increases in hotel/motel tax collections."

The CVB uses hotel/motel tax collections to gauge the strength of the travel industry in the county. To get "heads in beds," Ruffini said, is the CVB's goal. The bureau collects a certain percentage on each occupied room, each night, for all types of tourism lodging, including bed and breakfasts.

The numbers for 2010 are current up to April. More recent numbers are not yet available.

Online Reporter Becca Habegger

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