Tourism is an important industry in Chicago. With the industry booming and exciting changes on the horizon, here’s a mid-year look at what’s happened and what’s coming up.
An agreement between the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers will strengthen Chicago’s ability to attract new corporate and association convention bookings. This will keep McCormick Place competitive as a meeting and convention destination. Also, Reed Exhibitions will bring two new shows to Chicago—AIBTM (confirmed for June 2013, 2015, and 2017) and Book Expo America (May 2016).
While Chicago hotel occupancy was down almost 3% from this time last year, ADR and RevPAR have both increased since 2011. It is believed that the slight decrease in occupancy was caused by the travelers’ awareness that NATO was in Chicago, compression due to lack of availability during the NRA Show, and a limited time between the Sweets & Snacks Expo and NATO for McCormick Place to sell event space for groups. However, for year-to-date, Chicago’s hotels are ahead of last year in every category.
The 32nd annual Taste of Chicago festival is coming up in a few weeks, with exciting additions and an opening performance by Chicago native Jennifer Hudson. The full entertainment lineup and list of the 36 participating restaurants can be found at www.choosechicago.com. The regional advertising campaign for Chicago has produced impressive results, with choosechicago.com receiving over 200,000 hits a month and 1.2 million visits since Jan. 1, 2012.
Chicago’s international presence will emerge onto markets in Sao Paulo, Tokyo, and the Benelux region beginning July 1st. July 1st also marks the beginning of Choose Chicago’s role as the official tourism organization for Chicago. The Choose Chicago team, along with Mayor Emanuel, has laid out goals to: 1) increase the number of yearly visitors to 50 million by 2020 and 2) make Chicago a top 5 U.S. destination for overseas visitors (it is currently ranked #10).
In a recent article published by the Chicago Tribune, statistics show that Illinois tourism rates jumped 5% in 2010. The state generated $29.3 billion in tourism, which translates to a $2.2 billion raise from 2009.
Gov. Quinn said the rising revenue has also supported several thousand jobs throughout the state. “With our world-class destinations and accessible locations, more people from around the world are coming to Illinois and staying longer,” he said to the Decatur Tribune. Over the last year, the travel industry created near 300,000 Illinois jobs, and the state hosted more than 1,000,000 international visitors.
While Chicago tourism rates were a bit on the downslide (dropping by almost 1%), the city is still fairly optimistic, as its 7.4% increase in overnight leisure travel surpassed the national 6.6% average. And, Chicago still remains as the state’s largest tourist attraction, drawing in 38.1 million of Illinois’ 84.7 million visitors last year.
In fact, the city is working to become more of an international travel and winter destination.
“Even when it’s cold, we still have the music, theater and great restaurants,” said President and Chief Executive Officer of the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau, Don Welsh.
In 2010, the city ranked as the 10th most popular city for international travelers. The 1,134,000 visitors represented a 2% increase from 2009.
Here on the CHI blog we’ve been keeping you up to date with the discussions surrounding McCormick Place. The bill that has been so wildly debated is now law.
What does this mean? McCormick Place will no longer have exclusivity over many of the services used by its clients. The good news is that it helps keep costs down, and will hopefully revitalize traffic through its great halls! This is no small beans. Conventions and meetings at McCormick generate over $250 million in tax revenue each year, and estimates dictate that attendees spend roughly $8 billion annually in state.
Not only is the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau behind this, but leaership included Governor Quinn, Mayor Daley, House Speaker Madigon, Senate President Cullerton, and more. A bi-partisan effort, this law will hopefully offset some of the financial drains on our state budget.
For more information and the latest updates click here.
Last week, the Illinois General Assembly passed legislation to reduce costs and retain Chicago trade show business. The bill now rests with Governor Pat Quinn for review and approval.
“Our convention industry was at a breaking point, and the jobs and tax revenue it brings to our city and state were in jeopardy,” said McCormick Place General Manager David Causton. “Thanks to this legislation, we will see a new era in Chicago conventions.”
With labor costs at McCormick Place exceeding those of competing venues, reforms were critical. Meetings and conventions at McCormick Place support 66,000 jobs and generate $251 million in tax revenue each year. Customers who come to Illinois spend close to $8 billion in the state.
The legislation proposes to remove current McCormick Place management and calls for the appointment of Regional Transportation Authority Chairman and former Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA) CEO Jim Reilly to oversee the facility’s operations during an 18-month transition period, while a private manager and new board of directors is selected.
In addition, the bill imposes new labor work rules to reduce crew sizes, requires less overtime pay, eliminates hassles for customers, expands exhibitor rights, allows customers to do their own work, regardless of booth size, and restructures capital debt to allow increased cost cutting to customers.
“This legislation is a big win for the state of Illinois and especially for our customers,” said Tim Roby, the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau’s president and CEO. “Our customers asked for more flexibility and lower costs, and Springfield delivered. It is exactly the reform we need to keep our state vibrant and the trade shows coming back.”
Roby and Causton discuss the details of the legislation in a webcast available to all customers and members: www.choosechicago.com/videos/chicagogetsitdone.htm.