New quarter stresses key role for tourism bureaus
With the announcement by the U.S. Mint that the Shawnee National Forest will be featured on the back of a quarter, State Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, stressed the importance of funding local tourism bureaus.
“Shawnee National Forest is one of the most beautiful places in Southern Illinois and attracts people from all around the world, driving tourism dollars to our region,” Phelps said in a news release.
“Our local tourism bureaus do such a great job helping promote places like Shawnee and it’s so important that they have the resources they need to spread the word.
Since 2010, the U.S. Mint has been creating coins as part of the America the Beautiful Quarters program to highlight different national parks and sites in the 50 states.
On Feb. 4, the Mint planned to introduce the Shawnee National Forest quarter that will feature an image designed by artist Justin Kunz that shows a close-up of Camel Rock at the Garden of the Gods with a red-tailed hawk flying overhead. The Shawnee quarter is number 31 in the series.
Phelps noted that due to an ongoing budget impasse, state funding for local tourism bureaus to promote and advertise has not been appropriated.
In May, Phelps said he supported a spending plan that would have sent nearly $31 million to tourism agencies around the state to help inform residents and travelers about local destinations, such as the Shawnee National Forest.
“Having the Shawnee National Forest on the back of a quarter is such an honor for Southern Illinois and highlights the importance of having a vibrant tourism economy,” said Carol Hoffman, sales manager of the Southernmost Illinois Tourism Bureau.
“As a local tourism bureau in Southern Illinois, Shawnee gives us the ability to drive visitors and local residents to our region. It’s critical that we receive the resources we need to make sure people passing through are aware of this beautiful national forest.”