Nature-based tourism and outside recreation spotlight Mississippi River cruise | Press Releases


Creating a vibrant, active outdoor recreation area along the Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway in southwest Illinois is key to revitalizing the state of Illinois.

The inspiration behind the River Connections Mississippi River Cruise aboard the Spirit of Peoria paddle steamer on Wednesday afternoon is to share with regional and state guides about the importance of a regional approach to the outdoor leisure industry for visitors and residents. Currently, 17 states in the country have their own outdoor recreation office. Regional Byway executives recognize that Illinois should be the 18th state to harness the economic and quality of life power that the outdoor industry can bring to Illinois.

“We have to pursue regional, cooperative approaches in order to build the destination we need, not only for tourism, but also for teleworkers, young families, retirees and companies and service providers in the outdoor industry,” Cory Jobe, President and CEO of The Great Rivers & Routes Tourism Bureau said. “Municipalities and regions of the 21st century not only create jobs, growth and income – they increase the quality of life. To this end, we have committed ourselves to forming a regional consortium. Together we will argue why this region and our great river corridor could be an anchor and a foothold for the revitalization of the country. “

In addition to Jobe, there will be Karla Flannery, Assistant Director of the Illinois Tourism Bureau, and Byway Mayors David Goins from Alton, Mike Morrow from Grafton, Mike Pitchford from Elsah, Tom Stalcup from Wood River, Mike Parkinson from Granite City and Dave Hurley his from Hardin and Emily Fortschneider from Brussels. State Representative Amy Elik and State Senators Doris Turner and Rachelle Crowe will also be present.

The Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway is a 53 mile long corridor along the Mississippi River that extends from Hartford, Madison County through Jersey County. The State Byway continues the Lower Illinois River Corridor for an additional 40 miles through Calhoun, Jersey and Greene Counties.

“Becoming a gateway and regional center for the outdoor recreational initiative is key to Alton’s continued growth and economic health,” said Mayor David Goins. “I am encouraged to work with mayors on the byway to embrace transformative change for our region and our state of Illinois.”

The management plan for the region’s Scenic Byway Corridor was completed in 2007 and needs to be updated. This could include a robust activation strategy that identifies and prioritizes a list of projects that include the Mississippi, recreational activities, and outdoor conservation. It would also strengthen the region’s brand as an outdoor destination.

In the summer months, a working group for outdoor recreation and quality of life came together to begin developing activation strategies for new approaches to establishing near-natural outdoor tourism. This included new approaches to accessing public land, an emphasis on outdoor trading, strategies for developing outdoor workforce, and working on starting and accelerating outdoor leisure businesses.

“Grafton is perfectly located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers to be a major city center outdoor recreation destination,” said Grafton Mayor Mike Morrow. “We are committed to working on these strategies and making them a reality.”

The proposed outdoor recreation task force would work on: promoting an active lifestyle; Ensuring the conservation and management of public lands and waters; Developing and expanding Illinois’ many cultural and heritage tourism platforms; Educating and engaging children outdoors; Facilities and ensure that recreational opportunities are available; and serve as a focal point for those concerned with the sustainability of natural landscapes, parks, and the quality of life in Illinois communities.