After being gone for over 12 years, I willingly returned to Illinois in 2022 and haven't regretted it since. Being close to my favorite people, places, and teams far outweighs some of the frustrations of the state.

READ MORE: IL, WI College Campuses Named 'Most Beautiful' in U.S.

Besides, if there's nothing worth seeing, doing, or visiting in the Land of Lincoln, why do we continue to be one of the top destinations for tourists?

And, let's not forget that the Wall Street Journal ranked Rockford, Illinois as the #1 hottest housing market for the first quarter of 2024.

RELATED: Rockford #1 Housing Market in U.S., But Is That a Good Thing?

Now we're seeing even more data that is proving Illinois is not only a top destination for American travelers, but we're one of the fastest growing for international visitors.

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According to a report from the Illinois Office of Tourism, there's been a "significant increase in international visitors" to the state, and no it's not because of Texas flying and bussing migrants to Chicago.


Growth in International tourism to Illinois has exploded with overseas travelers, which excludes tourists from Canada and Mexico.

Canada also had huge growth in the number of tourists coming to Illinois growing from 425,000 to 627,000 visitors, up 48 percent from 2022 to 2023. Mexico grew its visits to Illinois, up 12 percent from 164,000 to 183,000 tourists.

One country in particular had more than a 50 percent increase in the number of tourists coming to the Land of Lincoln from 2022 to 2023.


Illinois' Department of Tourism says the reason for the dramatic increase in international visitors has to do with the "strategic marketing initiatives, enhanced partnerships and a wide array of unique attractions and experiences that appeal to international travelers."

Illinois welcomed a total of 111 million visitors who spent $44 billion in 2022 – representing 14 million additional travelers spending $12 billion more than calendar year 2021

Next year the U.S. Travel Association will host its IPW Convention in Chicago from June 14-18, 2024, which is the largest annual trade show in the United States.

LOOK: 25 must-visit hidden gems from across the US

From secret gardens to underground caves, Stacker compiled a list of 25 must-visit hidden gems from across the United States using travel guides, news articles, and company websites.

Gallery Credit: Abby Monteil

LOOK: See how much gasoline cost the year you started driving

To find out more about how has the price of gas changed throughout the years, Stacker ran the numbers on the cost of a gallon of gasoline for each of the last 84 years. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (released in April 2020), we analyzed the average price for a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline from 1976 to 2020 along with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for unleaded regular gasoline from 1937 to 1976, including the absolute and inflation-adjusted prices for each year.

Read on to explore the cost of gas over time and rediscover just how much a gallon was when you first started driving.

Gallery Credit: Sophia Crisafulli

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