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Low Memorial Day travel impacts Illinois economy

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According to Illinois businesses, low Memorial Day travel numbers are negatively impacting the state's economy, even as Missouri is open for business.

The parking lot at the Fairfield Inn and Suites in Quincy has been empty when normally it's very busy for the holiday.

"It's the kick off to the summer season. This year, we are going to run occupancies of 15 percent," general manager Deb Carstens said.

The hotel was preparing for a big weekend with the annual Gus Macker basketball tournament and family visits but that's not happening because everything is cancelled.

"We are hopeful that people aren't cancelling, that they are rescheduling, that's our big hope as part of the tourism industry but right now things look bleak," Carstens said.

Quincy resident Steve Blickhan said he normally goes to see family in Wisconsin and by Chicago, but that's not the case this year.

He said he's going to ride his motorcycle this weekend instead and hopes more people get outside.

"I noticed last week that the traffic picked up in town in Quincy, so they should go out and enjoy it safely outside," Blickhan said.

Triple-A-Iowa is expecting a record low after the second-highest travel weekend last year despite gas prices at its lowest in years.

Meanwhile in Missouri, law enforcement officials said they're expecting a high turnout on the highways as people travel to campgrounds, state parks, and other businesses.

Sgt. Eric Brown with Missouri State Highway Patrol said every available trooper will be on the road but said it will take a team effort to reach zero fatalities this weekend.

"If drivers chose to obey the speed limit, obey the traffic laws, designate sober drivers and put their seat belt on," Brown said. "Unfortunately 64 percent of people who die in fatal traffic crashes are unrestrained."

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, 8 people died on the road last year during the holiday weekend along with 433 crashes with injury.

Troopers made 96 DWI arrests on the roads.

On the water, two fatalities were reported, seven crashes, and 10 people were caught boating while intoxicated.

For the first time in 20 years Triple-A did not report a travel forecast this year.

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Blake Sammann

Blake Sammann is a reporter and weekend anchor at WGEM News.

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