CHICAGO CONVENTION & TOURISM BUREAU SELECTS MARKETING AND PUBLIC RELATIONS FIRMS TO REPRESENT CITY IN CANADA AND MEXICO

Bureau identifies Canada and Mexico as important growth markets in its travel and tourism strategy

CHICAGO - The Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau (CCTB announced today the selection of Toronto-based firm Connect-Worldwide and Mexico City-based firm Global Marketing & Sales Inc. to support the Bureau's tourism efforts in Canada and Mexico. Both firms specialize in international market expansion and will provide support for travel trade sales, public relations, consumer marketing, social networking, meetings and convention marketing and brand development for Chicago in these international markets.

Chicago is already a destination of choice for many Canadians. Statistics indicate that nearly 452,000 Canadians visited Chicago in 2010, resulting in a 14.3 percent increase from 2009.

"The decision to partner with Connect-Worldwide is critical to our city's economic growth," said Don Welsh, CCTB president and CEO. "With 40 non-stop daily flights from Toronto and new service from Vancouver and Calgary to Chicago's O'Hare airport, we see significant growth potential as a result of Chicago's accessibility. It is imperative for us to highlight Chicago's remarkable assets and position it as a must-see destination for travelers from Canada."

The selection of Connect-Worldwide is the first step in a long-term strategy of growing the Canada market. The Bureau will work with Connect-Worldwide Canada to develop compelling reasons for Canadians to travel to Chicago, whether for their first time or as returning visitors.

In 2010, Canada, the United Kingdom and Mexico were the top three international inbound markets for travelers to Illinois. With Chicago representation already in the UK with London-based firm, Hills Balfour Synergy, the decision to expand operations in Canada and Mexico will help Chicago capture more of the international visitor market.

"While there has been steady growth in the Canada market, we have witnessed nearly a 13% drop in visitation from Mexico from 2009 to 2010," said Welsh. "Mexico continues to be the third largest inbound market to Illinois, so it is crucial to our tourism strategy that we identify opportunities to share Chicago's story with travelers from Mexico. Our partnership with Global Marketing & Sales Services Inc. will help us identify the Chicago attributes that truly resonate with this market." 

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 leveraging 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 Connect Worldwide
Connect-Worldwide was founded in 2002 to fulfill the growing need of travel companies around the world to market their brands in new and innovative ways. Connect-Worldwide Canada is a recognized leader in providing strategic sales, marketing, and public relations, in market expertise for travel companies and destinations.

About Global Marketing & Sales Inc.
Global Marketing & Sales Inc. (GMS) is the travel industry's leading marketing, sales and public relations company for Mexico and Latin America. GMS's clients benefit from its extensive regional experience, long standing relationships and unparalleled in-market infrastructure. GMS's services in region are sales and backend support, integrated marketing solutions, advertising and public relations for both travel trade and consumer markets.


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