Southern Ill. tourism booming despite pandemic

The vineyards at Walker’s Bluff Winery.
Coronavirus has hindered a lot of peoples’ summer plans.
In Southern Illinois, there is plenty to offer for people wanting to plan trips.
Southern Illinois has a beauty of its own. Many people from across the Heartland have been checking into cabins around the Shawnee National Forest.
Kitty Campbell, the owner of Oak Grove Cabins and Walnut cabins, said since they were allowed to reopen, business has been booming.
“We’re doing really, really well,” she said. “I was really worried about the summer, but tourism has really picked up and we are back to where we were last year, and the year before.”
With some customers having to cancel trips in the beginning of summer, Campbell was nice enough to help out her customers.
“When the pandemic started, we had cancellations, and I offered people vouchers, so some of them have rescheduled,” Campbell said. “I offered a two-year voucher so they would have plenty of time.”
She said a lot of folks from major cities have been checking into their properties.
“You get away from the city, you get away from people who have COVID, you come here and just enjoy yourself,” said Campbell.
Another main draw for tourism in Southern Illinois are the wineries.
Many people travel from all over to check out the many wineries that this region has to offer.
Walker’s Bluff is one of the wineries that has been noticing a lot of customers.
Ryan Phelps, the COO of Walkers Bluff, said folks have been wining and dining.
“Actually, we’ve had as good of numbers this year as we had in the past,” he said. “So, we are seeing basically the same volume of regular business. We’ve also had the ability to open legends, our fine dining facility.”
Phelps noted they have tourists coming from all the local states to check out their selections of wines.
“All of our local customers seem to be coming out. And then having those customers from St. Louis, northern Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana coming out to see us as well,” he said.
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