Published on : Tuesday, September 19, 2017
In Champaign, Illinois, downtown streets were closed off for the 8th annual C-U Pride and Parade, but it was more than just costumes and colors. The Illinois director of tourism said that LGBTQ events occupy an integral part of tourism in the state.
The streets were flooded with people and the colors of the rainbow. There were flags, balloons and lots of laughter.
Signs of support for the LGBTQ community were evident all through. It’s in the smiles and hugs of the people who pass by.
According to the Illinois director of tourism, “We want to make sure that people feel welcome. We welcome everyone no matter your race, color your gender identity.”
That’s the goal for many people at the parade, and it’s also a priority for Illinois. This summer the Illinois Department of Tourism launched a new campaign focused on LGBTQ events and travel.
The tourism director said, “Internationally, visitors want to travel to major cities but they also want to take a road trip, get in a car and experience the real America. Experience something unique and authentic. Tourism in the industry is a major economic driver in the state. It’s the third largest employer in the state of Illinois behind manufacturing and agriculture.”
He added that events like these bring in the big bucks. “For every dollar we have spent in terms of LGBTQ travel, it’s returned nearly 14 dollars in hotel/motel revenue to the state.”
But for the people at the Pride festival, it was more than dollars and cents.
The people at the parade say it’s not just about acceptance and tolerance; it’s about love and friendship.