CHICAGO - The Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau (CCTB) announced today the selection of London-based Hills Balfour to support the bureau's tourism efforts in the United Kingdom. The firm will provide travel trade sales, public relations, consumer marketing, social networking, meetings and convention marketing and brand development for Chicago in the UK market.
The UK represents Chicago's largest international inbound market with over 158,000 annual visitors. However, the market experienced a significant decline in 2010 with a 22 percent drop in visitation. The selection of Hills Balfour is the first step in a long-term strategy of growing the UK market.
"The selection of Hills Balfour to support our communications and tourism marketing efforts in the UK is crucial to our overall plan of increasing domestic and international visitation," said Warren R. Wilkinson, Senior Vice President, Marketing & Communications for the CCTB. "The UK represents Chicago's largest inbound international market with significant growth potential due in large part to the exceptional accessibility to Chicago with over eight daily non-stops from London Heathrow as well as service from Manchester England. After a comprehensive review, we're pleased to select Hills Balfour as our agency of record."
Hills Balfour will position Chicago as a must-see destination for UK travellers and as a gateway destination for Illinois and the Midwest. The firm will leverage all of the city's cultural assets and key tourism drivers to develop compelling reasons for Brits to travel to Chicago, whether for their first time or as returning visitors.
"We are thrilled to be appointed to represent the CCTB in the UK and to be involved with the promotion of such an iconic city. With our extensive USA and destination experience, this will give us the opportunity to immediately re-invigorate and excite the trade, media and consumers in the UK market about Chicago and look to return visitor arrivals to a level the city deserves," said Jonathan Sloan, Managing Director, Hills Balfour.
The Chicago visitor industry is directly responsible for 124,000 jobs resulting in $616 million in tax revenue that supports education, healthcare, public safety and other public services and $11.1 billion in direct spending by visitors on food, entertainment, transportation and shopping.
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About the CCTB
The Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau is the official sales and marketing organization responsible for promoting Chicago as a global visitor destination levering the city's unmatched assets to ensure the economic vitality of the city and its member business community. For more information, visit our web site at www.choosechicago.com.
About Hills Balfour
Hills Balfour was established in 1998 and has since become the UK's premium travel representation and PR consultancy. Today, the agency offers a globally recognized representation service specializing in public relations, sales and marketing, consumer marketing, social networking, MICE services and brand development of leading travel and tourism companies with a specific focus and expertise on tourist boards, tour operators, hotels and airlines.