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May 15--The number of visitors to Illinois last year increased 3 percent to nearly 114 million, compared to 2016, according to numbers released by the governor's office on Tuesday.

Visitors spent $39.5 billion in Illinois in 2017, according to the U.S. Travel Association. That's an increase of $1.1 billion or 3 percent from 2016. Visitor spending on goods and services generated $2.95 billion in state and local tax revenue, up $75 million from 2016.

In the past 10 years, travelers visiting Illinois increased by more than 22 million, and the state's tourism industry supported 335,500 jobs in 2017, an increase of 18,600 jobs since 2015.

"Tourism is a critical part of our economy," Rauner said. "There is so much to see and do in our state. It is gratifying to know that so many people come here each year to experience what we have to offer."

Illinois Office of Tourism Director, Cory Jobe credited the record numbers to several marketing campaigns including Illinois Tourism's "Up for Amazing" advertising campaign that launched in March 2017 targeting 14 domestic and five international markets.

Additional marketing campaigns focused on fall travel, promoting the Illinois Made program and attracting more LGBTQ travelers to the state.

Illinois Office of Tourism receives domestic visitor numbers from DK Shifflet and international visitor numbers from Tourism Economics. Visitor expenditures, tax revenue and jobs numbers come from U.S. Travel Association.

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