By Andrew Hill
The city of Nauvoo, Ill. may not be very well known outside of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but that could soon change.
In an effort to boost state tourism, the Illinois Bureau of Tourism has begun an initiative to select what will be officially deemed the Seven Wonders of Illinois from a field of 84 popular tourist attractions. Two popular LDS church historic sites, Historic Nauvoo and Old Carthage Jail, are among the list of candidates nominated to compete for the designation. However, they are both underdogs in a field of many popular tourist destinations.
“Right now, [Nauvoo is] only at 6 percent [of the vote],” said Garret Anderson, a BYU alumnus and city planner for Centralia City, Ill. “So they need all the help they can get.”
Tourism is an important industry for the city of Nauvoo, attracting between 200,000 and 250,000 visitors each year. Ron Yockey, interim director of tourism at the Nauvoo Tourism Office, said should Nauvoo win, it would help tourism considerably.
“It would be a huge impact for our visitors,” Yockey said. “[Tourists] would want to go through and see why it was named one of the Seven Wonders of Illinois.”
Yockey also said many of the city”s businesses are built around tourism.
Currently, Nauvoo stands in sixth place. Unless the votes for Nauvoo increase, it is unlikely that it will make it past the second round when the list of candidates is narrowed to four candidates in each region. Old Carthage Jail, which is competing with Nauvoo in the state”s western region, is tied for last place tallying only 1 percent of all votes.
According to the Web site, the Bureau received more than 37,000 nominations for the honor.
Apart from receiving the title of “Wonder,” the winning destinations will be featured on the Bureau”s Web site where travel packages will be offered. WLS television in Chicago, an ABC affiliate, is also planning to highlight each of the Seven Wonders.
Voting is done online through the Illinois Bureau of Tourism”s Web site www.enjoyillinois.com. Votes can be cast once a day. The Bureau will announce the winning destinations on April 30.