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THIS WEEK: A billion dollar Quad City industry is trying to recover

Visit Quad Cities says the region lost $262 million in tourism dollars thanks to the pandemic

MOLINE, Ill. — Quad City tourism may not fully recover from COVID-19 until 2024.

Visit Quad Cities Executive Director Dave Herrell says the region was hit hard when lockdowns, quarantines, and business travel cutbacks became the normal operating process during the pandemic.

"Obviously not happy with it, and certainly need to do everything we can to get back to where we were," said Herrell on "News 8 THIS WEEK with Jim Mertens".

It's estimated Quad City tourism fell by 21.5% in 2020, the year of COVID.

But Herrell says he was expected a bigger drop, something closer to 30%.

"To only be at 21.5% compared to what we were forecasting I think is a silver lining for tourism," he added.

You can listen to our entire interview with Visit Quad Cities President Dave Herrell on THE CITIES PODCAST.

It's a silver lining that came at a cost.

Visit Quad Cities says tourism dollars help pay for 8000 salaries in the Quad City region.

And the 21.5% loss adds up to millions of dollars.

The group said total visitor spending in 2019 was $1.22 billion.

It dropped to $958 million in 2020, a loss of $64 million.

And the Quad Cities lost out on more than $9 million in local tax revenue when compared to 2019.

"I think it's going to be a couple years until we can get back to that 2019 number," said Herrell.

But 2019 was special.

"That's a record year for not only the Quad Cities but just travel and tourism domestically."

Herrell says the Quad Cities will need to be competitive in its approach to growth in 2022.

But he sees new event bookings for the coming year, the new Interstate 74 bridge completion, and initiatives like the "QC. That's Where" campaign will help give the area an edge.

"I'm very bullish on the Quad Cities future.  I think the forecast that we have for 2022 is great."

You can watch "News 8 THIS WEEK with Jim Mertens" Sunday mornings at 10 on WQAD News 8.