$311 million dollars - that's how much visitors spent in Winnebago County last year.
The Forest Lake Rangers are in Rockford for a softball tournament and say the number of places to eat, quality sports facilities, and relaxed atmosphere make this a visit they look forward to.
"Last year we competed in this same tournament and had an excellent time."
Forest Lake Rangers Coach Don Cramers says the Rockford softball community does a great job making every team feel welcome. Especially after a 5 hour drive down from Minnesota.
"We had opening ceremony at the indoor sports center off riverside and they did an excellent job we got to meet some of the peaches, girls got pictures taken and there was plenty to do and that's the main thing, plenty of things for kids to do and have a great experience," said Cramer.
Illinois Director of Commerce and Economic Opportunity David Vaught says there's good reason visitor spending in Winnebago County was up 11.8% 2011.
"We have a hotel motel tax in Illinois that we use to promote tourism. So we try to take some of that money and reinvest it and the industry supports that. We do strong advertising campaigns to really tell people a good story about coming to Illinois and coming to Rockford and we think its working."
For players being able to have a good time means performing better on the field.
"It kind of helps with the team aspect we get to hang out a lot, it relaxes everybody and to get to know the place makes you feel more comfortable," Forest Lake Rangers shortstop Maddie Romines.
Tourism in Winnebago County supported more than 2,600 jobs in 2011. That's a 1.1% increase compared to the previous year. Only Peoria and Cook County saw an increase of more than 2%.
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