Saving Illinois Tourism
In the mid 2000s, then-Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich moved to reduce IBOT’s budget by 50%. CVB officials statewide, led by Wendy Perks Fisher of the Rockford bureau, formed a coalition of legislators and community officials to beat back the potentially devastating assault on tourism funding.
GS was engaged to create a grassroots campaign to tell story of tourism’s positive economic impact on communities supported by IBOT funding via a messaging strategy (“Visitors Mean Jobs”) that was executed via a website, email campaign, downloadable posters, letters to the editor statewide and more. The campaign was successful, and the Governor’s administration abandoned its effort and funding went untouched.
Sadly, the same thing is happening right now in Illinois and GS was again commissioned to help create grassroots communications to help citizens – and by proxy, the Governor’s office – understand that tourism is creating amazing ROI in the great state of Illinois. There are indications that the campaign and pressure it is exerting is having positive effect; the Governor recently spoke to statewide CVB tourism officials at an annual conference and promised to work to restore funding this fiscal year.