Rockford casinos help in reviving tourism post pandemic

 Friday, November 12, 2021 


The new temporary Rockford Casino brings in large crowds and packed parking lots. City leaders say it’s just the beginning of tourism coming back to the area.

Thursday marks day two for Hard Rock’s Opening Act and every dollar spent inside the casino contributes to the local economy.

President and CEO of the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (RACVB) John Groh calls last year “catastrophic” to the local travel and tourism industry. He says nationally, it’s not expected to reach pre-pandemic levels until 2024.

But Groh calls the casino “a demand generator,” which means it attracts new visitors that might not otherwise make the trip.

It not only brings people to the Forest City but gives it a much-needed economic boost, generates taxes and puts people to work.

The timing of the casino opening pairs well with the ramping up of the BMO Harris Bank Center and the Coronado Performing Arts Centre season.

Groh says in two years, when the main casino opens, the international brand of Hard Rock will also play a factor.

“With the iconic guitar 100 feet in the air, kind of as a beacon for people off of the interstate, that will I think be even more impactful than the Opening Act casino is today,” said Groh. “I think it’ll draw in people from further away with the additional offerings of the restaurants, and the entertainment venues and the hotel potentially.”

Groh goes on to say that without tourists spending their dollars in our area, we wouldn’t have many of the attractions and fan favourites that we know and love.

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