Choose Chicago State Funding Toolkit

Dear Chicago Visitor Industry Champion,

Today marks the beginning of the FY ’16 state budget. The Illinois General Assembly and Governor Rauner failed to reach an agreement; therefore, effective today, Choose Chicago will not receive its budgeted funds from the state. Choose Chicago will lose more than $7.2 million in budgeted revenues through December of this year and well over $12 million over the next 12 months.

This is our largest single source of revenue representing 40% of our annual operating budget. It devastates Choose Chicago for no immediate or long-term positive result on the state budget.  Choose Chicago will lose more than $7.2 million in budgeted revenues through December of this year and well over $12 million over the next 12 months.

Approximately half of every tourism dollar spent in the state is spent in Chicago.  To cut an organization that is a driving force for the city and state's economic recovery is irresponsible and unwarranted.

In preparation for what seems inevitable, we have amended the Chicago Epic summer campaign by pulling it out of the national market two weeks earlier than planned.  Planning for the winter regional advertising campaign has come to a screeching halt.

As a result of our active and committed industry, coupled with Choose Chicago's strategies and initiatives Chicago’s visitor industry has grown at an exponential pace and with record-breaking results.

  • More than $6 billion in future direct expenditures as a result of the McCormick Place reforms Governor Rauner vigilantly supported.
  • Total visitation to Chicago has increased 15% since 2011 to 50.17 million domestic and overseas visitors. Chicago joins New York City and Orlando as the only three U.S. cities to exceed 50 million annual visitors.
  • Chicago’s hotel room demand has reached historic levels and continues to outpace national growth in all key performance indicators, including Demand, Occupancy, Supply, Average Daily Rate, Revenue per Available Room and Revenue.
  • Tourism-related employment since 2011 has increased 4.1% adding more than 5,200 good-paying and career-oriented jobs.
  • Tourism spending has increased by $1.76 billion to $13.7 billion since 2011.

Now, we need YOUR help. As a partner, you know what Choose Chicago does for our city. We just need to remind Springfield of what we do and what we've done. We have drafted an electronic letter to the Governor, your state Senator and Representatives here. If you support our efforts, please electronically sign and send the letter here to Governor Rauner asking him to continue giving our organization the statutorily mandated funding from the state hotel tax.  Just click the link, fill out your information and hit “send”. The form will automatically generate all of your information directly into the letter to the Governor and your respective Senator and Representatives.

In addition we have launched a social media campaign with the hashtag #KeepThemComing. Below you will find sample tweets that you can use for your own twitter account. The premise is simple. As long as we continue to receive our statutorily mandated state funding, we can continue with the strategies and initiatives to keep the visitors coming and maintain record-breaking results for the city and state. In addition you will find talking points and a call script with the hashtag #KeepThemComing.

Talking Points

Call Script

Sample Tweets

On behalf of Choose Chicago, thank you for your continued commitment and support and the work you do every day for our industry. We're all in this together!


Don Welsh
President & CEO
Choose Chicago