Roundtable focuses on Peoria-area tourism
PEORIA — Intricately carved duck decoys. Pumpkins. Wildlife Prairie Park. The Louisville Slugger Sports Complex. Big yellow machines.
All have aspects or origins unique to the Peoria area and potential to draw visitors — if recognized and collectively marketed.
That was one theory that emerged from a roundtable discussion Thursday with U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood and local representatives of the tourism, hospitality and entertainment industries.
“If none of us ever really looks at what’s unique about us, then I don’t know what we’re going to do,” said John Morris, president and CEO of the Peoria Riverfront Museum. “We need to look inward before we look outward.”
The museum will host an exhibition early next year built on that perspective. It will feature collections of vintage duck decoys, many carved by local artisans now recognized as world-class in their niche, Morris said.
And any attention in the nation’s Capitol to uniquely Peoria subjects will help, he added.
“If you could keep reinforcing those, I think that’s how we’re going to get ahead,” Morris said.
LaHood, the Republican congressman for the 18th District, pointed to legislation he introduced last year as one way he can continue to support tourism efforts throughout central Illinois. That bill, which would add historic Route 66 to the National Park Registry and provide some funding to promote and protect it, has not yet been considered by the full U.S. Senate.
“Little things like that help promote tourism in little towns along the way,” LaHood said.