Illinois Launches ‘Time For Me To Drive’ Tourism Campaign As State Prepares To Fully Reopen Next Month

CHICAGO (CBS) — With Illinois on track to further loosen COVID-19 restrictions on Friday, and moving toward a full reopening as soon as June 11, Gov. JB Pritzker on Wednesday announced a new tourism campaign seeking to lure visitors back to the Land of Lincoln this summer.

The $6 million “Time For Me To Drive” ad campaign, featuring the hit song “Time For Me To Fly” by Champaign rock band REO Speedwagon, invites people to visit downtown Chicago, dozens of state parks and historic sites, winery tours in southern Illinois, and more.

The governor noted recent surveys show more than half of all Americans plan to travel this summer, and half of those travelers plan to drive.

“More and more, travelers are ready to get back out there,” Pritzker said.

As part of the new tourism campaign, Enjoy Illinois, the state’s official tourism website, .

“The joy of a road trip is the promise of what’s right around the corner. So let’s turn that corner together and show everyone that Illinois is the place to start their next great adventure,” Pritzker said.

The governor also noted some perks people who have been vaccinated can receive, such as free admission at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield for those who have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, or Chicago’s summer series of concerts for people who have been fully vaccinated.

“The faster that we can all get vaccinated, the more likely this summer will be getting us back to normal,” Pritzker said. “After an incredibly difficult year in which the pandemic kept us all close to home and staying apart, life-saving vaccines are bringing us back to life and heading toward a summer of fun and venturing out,”

Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity director Sylvia Garcia said the $6 million tourism ad campaign will air in seven states in 18 markets, mostly in states bordering Illinois.

Garcia noted, before the pandemic, Illinois welcomed more than 120 million visitors per year, and they spent more than $40 billion a year in Illinois. Last year, that spending was cut in half, and Garcia said the Pritzker administration is making it a priority to provide relief to the state’s tourism and hospitality industries.

According to Garcia, the state has provided more than $75 million in Business Interruption Grants to tourism-related businesses during the pandemic, in addition to $133 million in grants to restaurants and bars.

“In addition to the many sites and attractions, we can’t wait to welcome visitors back to Illinois. We’re also celebrating the important role that tourism plays in our economy,” she said.