ALTON – Riverbend tourism officials welcome a new $ 6 million travel campaign launched Wednesday by Governor JB Pritzker.

The Illinois Office of Tourism’s “Time for Me to Drive” campaign promotes return from travel across the state. Illinois officials encourage residents and visitors to get out and enjoy Illinois’ diverse communities and scenic landscapes.

“After an incredibly difficult year in which the pandemic kept us all close to home and apart, life-saving vaccines are bringing us back to life and setting us on our way to a summer of fun and adventure,” said Pritzker.

A multi-state advertising campaign due to launch later this week will encourage travel to a variety of destinations across Illinois while enabling the state to capitalize on pent-up demand. As consumer trends indicate an increasing desire to travel by car, the new campaign aims to highlight Illinois as a top choice for pre-summer travel.

Cory Jobe, president and CEO of the Great Rivers & Routes Tourism Bureau, said the campaign is repositioning Illinois as a major road trip destination.

“Everyone understands the value and impact of tourism on our state, and southwest Illinois in particular,” said Jobe. “COVID has devastated the tourism industry, which has been badly hit by the pandemic, resulting in job losses and millions in lost income.

“But now we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and state officials are behind our efforts to bring travelers back,” he said. “What better place is there for a road trip destination than southwest Illinois? We’re the only place in America where the Route 66 mother road meets the Great River Road. “

The Time For Me To Drive camapign highlights the state’s seven scenic back roads and highways – including the Great River Road along the Mississippi – as travelers try to get on the road, a trend that is growing across the country is watching. The campaign will run on television, radio, digital and print media, as well as on highways billboards in 18 markets and with advertisements in Spanish.

The campaign is the first phase of the state’s strategy to revitalize tourism in Illinois, which focuses on summer travel and local overnight stays. Future tourism promotion efforts will begin as soon as indoor tourism activities, major festivals and major attractions resume, if public health guidelines allow.

“Without question, tourism is a major economic engine for Illinois and vital to our economic recovery,” said Sylvia Garcia, acting director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunities (DCEO).

The campaign features the hit “Time for Me to Fly” by the Illinois-born rock band REO Speedwagon. In some places, travelers are changing the lyrics to the nostalgic song of flying to drive, underscoring the excitement shared by many that after over a year of pandemic, now is the time to venture and experience all that Illinois has to offer .

State officials said research shows that more than 70 percent of Americans are willing to travel again, up nearly 20 percentage points since the start of the year, and that many prefer road travel. Since the pandemic began, it is estimated that more than two-thirds of Americans have been on a road trip.

Due to the pandemic, Illinois has allocated $ 75 million to tourism and tourism-related businesses through the Business Interruption Grant program, and an additional $ 133 million to restaurants and bars across the state. With the recent enactment of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the government is re-examining additional options to meet the needs of tourism businesses facing persistent losses due to COVID-19.

“I’m proud of the way Illinois has led the Midwest in pandemic recovery, but as vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Tourism and Hospitality, I am aware of the economic losses and financial devastation our state has suffered over the past year has suffered. “Said State Senator Rachelle Crowe, D-Glen Carbon. “This campaign comes at just the right time to help those planning their summer vacation travel safely while supporting the Illinois tourism industry.”

To learn more about the new itineraries, please visit Visit for road trip opportunities in the Riverbend area.