With 55 pc growth from 2019 to 2023, India is third largest international market for Illinois

39 pc growth in total international visitors in 2023, 47 pc rise in spending
2024-05-08
/
/ Los Angeles
With 55 pc growth from 2019 to 2023, India is third largest international market for Illinois
With 55 pc growth from 2019 to 2023, India is third largest international market for Illinois

International visitors injected nearly USD 2.7 billion into Illinois' economy in 2023

India was amongst the fastest growing source markets for Illinois in United States, with a 55 pc jump in visitors in 2023 as compared to the pre-pandemic peaks of 2019, making the country the third largest source market, just behind Mexico and Canada, the neighbouring nations. Overall, Illinois recorded a 39 pc rise in international tourists and a 47 pc growth in spending by these visitors.
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Over 164,000 visitors from India visited Illinois in 2023, making India the largest long-haul source market and the third largest international market overall, for the State in MidWestern United States, says Daniel Thomas, Deputy Director of Illinois Tourism.

In an interview with India Outbound on the sidelines of IPW 2024, the largest inbound travel show in the United States, currently ongoing in Los Angeles, California, Thomas, who leads marketing and communication strategy for Illinois Tourism, says India is not only the largest long-haul market, but is also the biggest in terms of spends. 

Daniel Thomas

Daniel Thomas

“In 2023, India has grown 55 pc beyond the 2019 level, and so we could not be more thrilled to be active in India. Having done the Brand USA Sales Mission in Goa earlier in January and as we look forward to the next fiscal, we are starting to engage with partners on the ground and hope to be a whole lot more active in India and potentially have an office opening soon,’’ Thomas tells India Outbound.

“What we learned on the ground in January were the main hooks or interest areas for the Indian traveller. What we heard was that outdoor adventure, outdoor spaces, which Illinois is rich in, with 64 state parks. We heard that the Indian traveller was interested in shopping and luxury, culinary, movies and also sports. So, what we are going to be busy doing over the next couple of months is partnering with Brand USA on some co-op opportunities. We are going to be launching some additional itineraries. We are actually going to be launching a website not just in English, but we are also doing it in Hindi. And we know that it is a bilingual market. English is also important, but we felt that we also needed to communicate in native languages. And in fact, one of our tourism guides that we have actually launched in Hindi here at IPW as well. For us, it is really important. In the last 12 months, Indian travellers in Illinois have spent USD 275 million and that makes them the number two spending market for us,’’ says Thomas.

“That change has happened in the last 12 months. So that tells me that not only are visitors coming on the non-stop flight where they travel on Air India from Delhi into Chicago. It also tells me that they are travelling on other airlines like Emirates, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways, and transiting regionally into Abu Dhabi, Doha or Dubai and coming into Illinois that way,’’ adds Thomas.

Overall, Illinois welcomed 2.16 million international visitors in 2023, reflecting a 39 pc increase from the previous year, according to data provided by Tourism Economics, says the tourism board in a press statement. This surge in international visitation showcases Illinois as an increasingly sought-after global destination, it adds. 

Additionally, international visitors injected nearly USD 2.7 billion into Illinois’ economy in 2023, representing a 47 pc increase in spending compared to the previous year, says the tourism board. 

J B Pritzker

J B Pritzker

“This significant achievement highlights the growing global appeal of our great state and the hard work of our tourism and hospitality industry partners to make Illinois a world-class destination. Whether you call the Land of Lincoln home or are visiting from afar, we welcome everyone looking to discover all the amazing things that our state and cities have to offer,” says Governor J B Pritzker.

Juliana Stratton

Juliana Stratton

“Illinois is thriving! The growing interest in our state as a destination showcases the unique experiences we offer. From our vibrant landscapes and iconic Chicago skyline, there is something for everyone to enjoy. As we continue to welcome visitors from around the world, we invite them to immerse themselves in the rich tapestry of experiences that make Illinois truly extraordinary,” says Lt Governor Juliana Stratton.

“The tourism sector plays a vital role in Illinois’ economy, driving job creation, economic growth and supporting our small businesses and communities across the state. The record growth in international visitors is a testament to the strength of Illinois’ tourism industry and its ability to attract visitors from around the globe,” says DCEO Director Kristin Richards.

Sara Feigenholtz

Sara Feigenholtz

“Illinois is truly in the Middle of Everything, and there’s no better place for international travelers to visit. The significant growth among Illinois’ tourism sector solidifies our state’s position as a welcoming, world-class destination for visitors from near and far,” says Senator Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago).

The tourism board has identified the top five markets for visitation to Illinois in 2023 as Canada, Mexico, India, the United Kingdom and Germany. It says that Canada emerged as the leading market for international visitation, with an increase from 425,000 to 627,000 visitors, representing a 48 pc growth.

Overseas visitors, defined as visitors not from Canada and Mexico, also showed significant growth, from 963,000 visitors in 2022 to 1.35 million in 2023, marking a 40 pc increase.

The number of travellers from Mexico also grew from 164,000 to 183,000, reflecting a 12 pc rise. The board adds that the announcement of international tourism growth comes on the heels of news that next year, Chicago will host IPW 2025, from June 14-18, 2025.

The Illinois Office of Tourism attributes the growth in tourism to strategic marketing initiatives, enhanced partnerships and a wide array of unique attractions and experiences that appeal to international travellers.

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