Industry leaders looking for green light to safely kick-start industry

pexels kaboompics com 6267CHICAGO – The first hearing of the Senate Tourism and Hospitality Committee, chaired by Sen. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago), convened earlier today to discuss an industry that has been hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The hospitality and tourism sector generates nearly a million jobs among hotels, restaurants, cultural institutions, and supporting industries, and over 60% of those employed are from disproportionately impacted areas,” said Feigenholtz. “These jobs have been decimated due to the pandemic, and our focus needs to be on establishing a coordinated path and predictable plan to get this industry open and moving.”

Hospitality industry leaders testified before the committee, urging action and sharing what other comparable states are doing around the country. Cara Bader, representing the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, provided opening remarks before hearing from industry leaders, including: Sam Toia, President and CEO of the Illinois Restaurant Association; Michael Jacobson, President and CEO of the Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association; David Whitaker from Choose Chicago, a destination marketing organization for the city of Chicago; and Jayne DeLuce from the Champaign visitors Bureau.

“Our goal is to meet and construct a safe plan to get tourists into hotels, restaurants and our cultural institutions,” Feigenholtz said. “There is a path to do this safely, and Illinois must look at the modeling and metrics of other states in order to kick-start a struggling industry.”

The committee met virtually via Zoom. For more information and to learn details about upcoming hearings, refer to the committee’s page on