- Associated Press - Monday, July 27, 2015

CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois tourism officials say the state saw a 3.5 percent increase in visitors during 2014.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity announced the numbers Monday as it starts a four-day statewide tour with stops in Marion, Effingham, Quincy, Springfield, Peoria, Champaign, Rockford and the Chicago suburbs.

The agency says there were 109.4 million visitors to Illinois during 2014. Those visitors generated $2.7 billion in sales taxes for the state, an increase of $133.8 million in one year. State officials attribute 306,000 Illinois jobs to tourism.

The state plans efforts to continue boosts in tourism. This fall the Illinois Office of Tourism will launch the “Illinois Made” program to showcase inventors and artists. In the spring a newly formatted Illinois travel magazine will debut.

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