CHICAGO -The 2022 Illinois Governor’s Conference on Travel & Tourism kicked off Monday, Dec. 5, at Navy Pier in Chicago, with the 2022 Illinois Excellence in Tourism Awards ceremony honoring Illinois tourism leaders’ contributions to the industry. Governor JB Pritzker attended the event to address conference attendees prior to the awards ceremony. 

 “It is an incredible honor to celebrate and recognize our state’s tourism industry leaders and innovators who work incredibly hard each day to make Illinois a premier travel destination,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Their tourism marketing efforts have made an impact in their communities, reinvigorating local economies, and putting a spotlight on what makes Illinois an exceptional destination. As tourists gear up for a busy holiday travel season, we’re ready to welcome visitors near and far to experience everything Illinois has to offer, boosting our hospitality industry and bringing revenue to Illinois businesses.” 

“The winners of the Illinois Excellence in Tourism Awards reflect the resilience, creativity, and passion of Illinois’ dynamic tourism industry,” said Sylvia I. Garcia, Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO).  “Under Governor Pritzker’s leadership, we have awarded an unprecedented level of grant funding to support tourism recovery and we remain focused on supporting the tourism sector, driving economic development, and bringing our communities together.”  

The Illinois Excellence in Tourism Awards were presented to honor the most successful tourism marketing and advertising initiatives, from convention and visitor bureaus (CVBs) and tourism destinations to attractions and innovators throughout the state who make Illinois shine. 

Travel and tourism professionals from across the industry judged submissions in nine categories, ranging from best public relations and social media marketing campaigns to best event or festival, with one exceptional entry receiving best of show. 

Naturally McHenry County’s 2022 Insider Guide was selected as the Best Printed Collateral. Highlighting the many unique sights and sounds in this picturesque corner of Northern Illinois, the all new Naturally McHenry County Insider Guide draws inspiration from previous issues to create a smaller, bolder edition incorporating more narrative-based writing from local writers resulting in a fresh, new perspective to match the county’s fresh new look. The Insider guide proved so popular; Naturally McHenry County was forced to reprint the guide after six months of distribution.  

“While Visit McHenry County had always produced beautiful and visually appealing visitors’ guides and brochures, Naturally McHenry County’s new name and new brand combined to create something spectacular. If you picked it up or downloaded it from Naturally McHenry County’s redesigned website, it was hard to put down. Naturally McHenry County teamed up with niche businesses across the country – brewpubs, confectioners, artisans and the like – to promote the visitor’s guide through social media campaigns and giveaways that benefited both” said Michael Buehler, McHenry County Board Chair. 

“Many of the sessions and speakers at this year’s conference focused on outdoor tourism and the desire of travelers to experience more of the “off the beaten path” attractions and destinations. Our Insider Guide beautifully illustrates how, in our little corner of Illinois, visitors and residents can have that exact experience. We are extremely honored and proud to be recognized as having the best visitor guide in the state” said Jaki Berggren, President and CEO of Naturally McHenry County.  

This year’s Illinois Excellence in Tourism Awards program was presented by the Illinois Office of Tourism. The 2022 Illinois Governor’s Conference on Travel & Tourism was in Chicago, Dec. 5-7, at Navy Pier. The annual conference brings hundreds of Illinois industry leaders, travel experts and visionaries together to explore the latest industry trends and insights that contribute to Illinois tourism, one of the leading economic drivers in the state.  

To view or request the 2022 Insider guide, click here.