In 2016, the Windy City experienced a record number of visitors. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and David Whitaker, President & CEO of Choose Chicago, announced that 54.1 million travelers visited the city in 2016. The increase of 1.5 million represents a 2.9 percent improvement from the previous year.
“Three years ago we set a goal for Chicago to reach 55 million visitors by 2020,” Mayor Emanuel said. “We had an incredible and record-breaking year in 2016, but we are not stopping there. We have seen record increases in jobs and investment from our tourism industry, which is creating economic opportunities that reach every neighborhood in the city of Chicago.”
“We are thrilled to be pacing so well in our collective efforts to grow visitation to Chicago,
and the impact of these numbers speak to the importance of our industry and the role we can play in moving Chicago forward not only as a great city to live, work and play but also a great city to visit or meet in,” Whitaker said. “As we look ahead to 2017 and beyond, it remains imperative for us to focus on building the destination’s profile internationally and educating and reminding our partners in the travel industry, and the travelers we target, that Chicago is not only an amazing city to visit, but a top-notch place to convene and do business.”
According to Choose Chicago, group business plays a key role in the city’s economy. Of the 31 major meetings and conventions held in Chicago in 2016, several set records: eight saw record-setting attendance; four had their most exhibiting companies participate; and four had their highest net square footage of exhibition space. These 31 meetings and conventions welcomed 916,888 attendees to Chicago in 2016. The estimated overall economic impact of major meetings and conventions held in Chicago in 2016 totals $1.32 billion.
Looking ahead, there will be 35 major meetings and conventions coming to Chicago in 2017. The number of room nights projected to be generated from these groups is 1.04 million, a 6.4 percent increase in room nights from those hosted in 2016.