CITY HALL — The city welcomed a near-record 46.2 million tourists last year, according to figures released Tuesday by the Emanuel administration.
Some 45 million U.S. tourists visited the city last year, up 6.2 percent from 2011, and preliminary data suggested another 1.24 million international visitors came to the city. The 46.2 million fell just short of the record 46.3 million tourists in 2007, before the so-called great recession.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel was quick to credit the Choose Chicago tourism agency he created last year.
"Choose Chicago is well on its way to meeting and exceeding my goal of 50 million annual visitors by 2020," he said in a statement. "These results clearly show that a strategic approach to marketing our great city can and will produce significant economic benefits, including new jobs and tax revenues. I welcome all visitors to Chicago and look forward to more and more people enjoying our wonderful city."
"These are incredible results and are largely a result of how we are proactively and aggressively marketing our destination," said Don Welsh, Choose Chicago president and chief executive officer.
"Of particular note is the near-record [hotel] occupancy rate of 75.2 percent in 2012, an increase of 4.1 percent over the 2011 level of 72.2 percent. This was accomplished even when the city had 1.63 million more available rooms than the city had in the peak visitation year of 2007."
Although just under the record visitation year in 2007, the 2012 visitor volume generated $100.8 million in Chicago Hotel Tax Revenue, an incremental gain of $26.1 million over 2011 tax receipts.