"Through coordinated investments and marketing, our new tourism strategy is reaping significant dividends in new jobs and economic activity," said Mayor Emanuel. "We will continue to invest in neighborhood tourism strategies, new iconic investments, and an enhanced global marketing campaign to continue to lure more tourists to spend time in the most American of American cities."
Overnight leisure visitation fueled the growth with a record 18.65 million visitors, a gain of 3.8 percent over 2012. Overnight business visitation remained stable at a 10-year high of 7.23 million.
"We look forward to continuing the momentum with the support of Mayor Emanuel and our industry partners," said Rogers. "We fully intend to capitalize on these great achievements as we promote Chicago to business and leisure travelers across the globe."
"These results validate the strategies that Choose Chicago has implemented throughout our targeted regional, national and international markets," said Welsh. "Furthermore, Chicago is witnessing steady growth in meetings and convention business across all targeted segments as a direct result of the McCormick Place reforms and labor working as our partner."
When Mayor Emanuel took office, the City of Chicago had approximately 40 million visitors annually. In July 2012, Mayor Emanuel launched Choose Chicago, the city's official tourism marketing organization. Earlier this year, Mayor Emanuel increased the annual visitation goal from 50 million to 55 million visitors by 2020. Achieving this will result in 30,000 additional jobs related to the tourism industry and hundreds of millions of dollars in additional revenue into the city of Chicago.
Furthering the path towards reaching this goal, Choose Chicago booked 78 conventions and trade shows at McCormick Place in 2013. Of the 78 events booked, 60 were new events with 18 events retained business, a 22.4% increase from 2012. This momentum is further amplified with recent production performance with the newly deployed Sales team at Choose Chicago finishing the first quarter of 2014 with 508,027 room nights booked, which is the highest Q1 production since the reforms - a 71.5% increase from Q1 2013 production.
Chicago's hotel community benefited from the increase in 2013 visitation with record performance. Room demand set a record with 9.889 million rooms occupied, a gain of 2.3 percent over 2012. Hotel occupancy was 75.28%, a gain of 0.2% over 2012, surpassing the previous record of 75.18% in 2007 when the market had over 1.9 million fewer rooms available.
The 26.9 million domestic and expected overseas visitors who stayed in Chicago hotels generated $105.92 million in Chicago Hotel Tax Revenue, a 4.9 percent increase over the 2012 tax receipts.