Cat Visitor's Center and Riverfront Museum expected to boost tourism

By Audrey Williams

July 25, 2012 Updated Jul 26, 2012 at 11:05 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill --      The grand opening of the Riverfront Museum and the Caterpillar Visitor's Center is less than 3 months away.  Wednesday the Illinois office of tourism visited the construction site saying these two additions will really put Peoria on the map as a tourist destination.

"We have so many things to be proud of here and you look at this as another jewel in the community," said Caterpillar director of Corporate Public Affairs Jim Baumgartner.

Local tourism officials hope these two new facilities will help Peoria bring in even more revenue.  Jan Kostner the Deputy Director of the Illinois office of tourism is touring the state this week touting the successes of 2011. Last year tourism revenue jumped 10.2%.

"I think it can draw more people to the area, more overnight visitors. It may also draw more jobs and maybe other smaller businesses to service those visitors," said Kostner.

The Visitors Center is 90% complete and CAT officials believe at some point it will draw in not only almost every CAT employee that works in Illinois, but also employees and customers from around the world.

"This will be another reason for them to spend more time and more dollars right here in Peoria," said Baumgartner.

The addition of new hotels and the Bass Pro Shops has already added to the continued growth of tourism in Central Illinois.

"If there is multiple things for them to do, they'll come, they'll stay for several days," said Kostner.

While farmers are not enjoying this weather, it is helping to keep construction for both facilities on track for their October 20th opening.