For the first time in the decades-long history of the ILLINOISouth Tourism Bureau, the organization has been recognized as ‘Best in Show’ of all tourism bureaus in the state for its recent marketing efforts. ILLINOISouth promotes communities, attractions, businesses, and events in a 21-county region of Southern Illinois.
“We are thrilled to receive such an honor,” explains Andy Waterman, Communications Director for ILLINOISouth. “We have so much fun showing people what kind of experiences they can have in Southern Illinois, so to be recognized for it – that’s just icing on the cake.”
Each year the Illinois Governor’s Conference on Tourism celebrates the accomplishments of all 37 tourism bureaus in the state during the ‘Excellence in Tourism’ awards ceremony. There are eight categories, as well as a ninth award for ‘Best in Show’ – which goes to the bureau with the highest score across all categories. ILLINOISouth was entered in five of the eight categories which included Best Printed Collateral, Best Social Media Marketing, Best Cooperative Partnership, Best PR Campaign, and Best Event or Festival.
“We have done some new and exciting things that we feel stood out to the judges of these awards,” Waterman adds. “Our TikTok account was in the Best Social Media Marketing category, and we have the largest following of any other tourism bureau in the state on that platform. TikTok gives us a whole new audience to reach, and we promote everything from events in Du Quoin to restaurants in Fairfield. In the Best PR Campaign category, our Bracket Challenge – Burger Edition promoted 26 area restaurants. That was undoubtedly a fan-favorite that reached over 330-thousand people this spring. So, we had some innovative entries that we feel set us apart,” Waterman says.
ILLINOISouth Tourism also won the Best Event or Festival Category for its role in helping to market and promote the NASCAR Cup Series Race at World Wide Technology Raceway in June of 2022.
“Our friends and partners at WWT Raceway did such an amazing job with the Enjoy Illinois 300, it brought tens of thousands of visitors to our region that otherwise would not have made the trip,” Waterman says. “Being able to have racetrack owner Curtis Francois on the stage to accept the awards with us was a fantastic moment, and we would like to congratulate them on the accomplishment as well.”
ILLINOISouth Tourism currently covers the following counties: Bond, Clark, Clay, Clinton, Crawford, Cumberland, Edwards, Fayette, Hamilton, Jasper, Lawrence, Marion, Monroe, Perry, Randolph, Richland, St. Clair, Wabash, Washington, Wayne, White, and the City of Highland