Specialists provide views on Route 66 tourism success

Published on : Saturday, February 11, 2017

Bill Kelly and Bill Thomas,Bill Kelly and Bill Thomas, two specialists on Route 66 tourism in Illinois, gave a brief seminar Tuesday evening at Gillespie Civic Center for local business owners and others about how to utilize Route 66 tourism for economic development. The seminar was held for about an hour with 15-20 attendees. To quote Kelly, “The most famous road in the world runs right through your community, and that creates both opportunities and challenges.” To quote Thomas, “I believe in 2026, there will be hundreds of thousands of people traveling Route 66 in Illinois.”

 
Kelly said that the challenge is making people stop and spend money locally. To quote Kelly, “We need to look at trying to do as effective a job as possible at creating a unique experience opportunity for the 66 traveler. They’re planning on spending money. They’re going to eat, they’re going to buy gasoline, they’re going to stay overnight, they’re going to buy souvenirs.

 

They’re going to do that somewhere. Our challenge is, how do we get them to do that in Gillespie, and, in a broader sense, in Macoupin County? We’ve got the opportunity to do that. They’re looking for authentic Route 66 experiences.

 

They’re looking for a great photo opportunity… They want some evidence that they were here on 66.” Kelly said that Thomas led the community of Atlanta, which is located about nine miles northeast of Lincoln, to take advantage of their position on Route 66. The four principles Thomas referenced were 1) the principle of preservation, 2) the principle of vision, 3) the principle of experience and 4) the principle of strategic perseverance.

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