Mayor Credits Tourism Efforts for Record Hotel Occupancy

By Ted Cox on January 23, 2013 11:15am 

 Mayor Rahm Emanuel credits his tourism bureau for record-tying hotel occupancy topping 75 percent last year.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel credits his tourism bureau for record-tying hotel occupancy topping 75 percent last year.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

CITY HALL — The mayor credits his new tourism bureau for record-tying hotel occupancy topping 75 percent last year.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Choose Chicago released figures Wednesday showing that Chicago had a hotel occupancy rate of 75.2 percent for 2012, tying a record set in 2007, before the economic collapse.

That was even as new high-quality hotels in the city raised the average daily room rate to $187.27 and the average daily revenue per room to $140.76, both up from 2011 and near record highs.

“Increasing tourism and business travel to Chicago is a central part of my economic strategy," Emanuel said. "Our multi-faceted approach is working and ... Chicago is a top destination for people around the world.”

“Choose Chicago’s strategic marketing and public-relations efforts delivered significant results throughout 2012," said Don Welsh, president and chief executive officer of the tourism bureau. "This is welcome news for Chicago’s visitor industry and reconfirms that a well-developed and flawlessly executed marketing and public-relations strategy drives increased visitor spending and new tax revenues."

Choose Chicago set a goal of raising Chicago's ranking among U.S. cities as a tourism destination and increase visits from the current 43.6 million to 50 million annually. Welsh claimed two ad campaigns aimed at cities within driving distance — a 12-week summer campaign and an eight-week winter campaign — produced an extra $325 million in city tourism spending, a 163-to-1 return on the $2 million investment. The ads targeted Cincinnati, Detroit, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, St. Louis and Grand Rapids, Mich.

According to city data, tourism produces 128,000 jobs, $725 million in tax revenue and $12 billion in direct spending. Projected at a rate of 50 million visitors annually, that could increase to 165,000 jobs, $1.3 billion a year in tax revenue and $14.7 billion in direct spending.

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