GALENA, Ill. — Galena Country Tourism officials gave a first look at the organization’s new tourism master plan and touted the area’s status as a premier Illinois tourist hub at an event for local stakeholders on Tuesday.
The luncheon at Turner Hall in Galena came during National Travel and Tourism Week, which continues through Saturday.
Karla Flannery, deputy director of Illinois Office of Tourism, told attendees that Galena is a top site for travel.
“Our team works to promote Illinois as a premier destination for all types of travelers by showcasing our state’s unique experiences and attractions,” she said. “… When we talk about Illinois tourism, Galena is always a key piece of our conversation.”
Flannery also highlighted the state’s recently launched tourism campaign, titled “Illinois: The Middle of Everything,” which promotes the state as a center of culture, history, nightlife and more.
“Our hope is really to use this campaign as a way to open people’s eyes to everything you can find in the state of Illinois and everything we can offer,” she said.
Galena Country Tourism President and CEO Rose Noble then shared preliminary information about the organization’s new tourism master plan, developed in a yearlong process with globally recognized consulting firm MMGY NextFactor. Noble said 584 Jo Daviess County residents completed surveys during the planning process, along with 104 stakeholder surveys and many focus groups and individual interviews.
The research process revealed that while more visitors can bring increased economic benefits to the Galena area, citizens now seek an emphasis on quality over quantity.
“Residents of our community today no longer regard economic growth alone as a significant measure of success,” she said.
Accordingly, the master plan does not merely focus on growing visitor numbers but also includes steps to protect the region’s “unique identity,” preserve the environment and improve residents’ quality of life.
“We can enhance and elevate what we have, and not erode what was already there before,” Noble said.
Through the strategic planning process, Noble said, Galena Country Tourism officials have developed four pillars on which the organization will focus: enhance and diversify the Galena Country experience; address and mitigate visitor pressures; improve livability and community well-being; and foster stakeholder alignment and collaboration.
She said Galena Country Tourism officials will finalize the plan in the coming weeks and hope to publish it on the organization’s website by July 1, after which they will meet with stakeholders to discuss implementation strategies.