Cultural Tourism Benchmark Study

To better understand the importance of arts and culture assets to our city's visitor industry, Choose Chicago commissioned a research study to further develop its understanding of cultural travelers.

The study focused on those from Chicago's largest feeder markets, with its main objectives to:

  • Identify feeder markets with the greatest potential for generating new and repeat visitation
  • Develop a comprehensive understanding of how these travelers view Chicago's cultural assets relative to other cities
  • Pinpoint the specific cultural activities with the highest potential for motivating cultural travel to Chicago
  • Reveal if any barriers to visiting Chicago for cultural travel exist
  • Test the potential for arts and culture promotions to impact visitor spending and length of stay

In June 2013, this survey was conducted online by collecting a sample of 400 cultural travelers in regional, national, and international feeder markets for a total sample of 4,000.

What the study revealed was that while Chicago has a wealth of active creative and cultural assets, it is not capturing the full opportunity for economic impact these sectors present: what assets are available, how to position them, and how to promote them to maximize spending. Choose Chicago has partnered with the Civic Consulting Alliance to develop a positioning strategy to leverage our cultural assets, to ultimately promote Chicago as a global cultural destination.

Phase I of this project focused on understanding the current state of Chicago's cultural assets through the creation of a comprehensive inventory by sector: architecture, culinary, dance, film, history, literature, music, fashion & neighborhood shopping, parks & recreation, science & nature, theater, and visual arts. Findings revealed 500+ city parks, 26 miles of lakefront, 9 historic parks, over 360 historic landmarks, over 220 dance companies, over 200 theatre companies, over 200 presenting stages, and over 225 music venues. Phases II and III of this project will determine target segments, a positioning strategy, and promotional tactics.

At the July 18 partner event announcing the survey results, Melissa Cherry, VP of Cultural Tourism & Neighborhoods, and team also presented 12 Things to Know about Chicago's Arts & Culture Scene. Highlights to mark on your calendar for this fall include:

  • 15th Annual Chicago World Music Festival (September 12-22)
  • Day of the Dead celebrations at the National Museum of Mexican Art (September 13 - December 15)
  • Russian Masters presented by The Joffrey Ballet (September 19-22)
  • 2nd Annual EXPO Chicago (September 19-22) & 3rd Annual Gallery Weekend Chicago (September 19-22)
  • 6th Annual Chicago Gourmet (September 28-29)
  • The Harris at 10: Harris Theater for Music and Dance presents
    its 10th season (opening October 1, 2013)
  • Verdi's 200th Birthday Spectacular presented by Chicago Symphony Orchestra (October 10)
  • Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives at the Museum of Science and Industry (October 16, 2013 - February 17, 2014)
  • The Endangered Species: A Visual Response to the Vanishing Black Man - New Works by Raub Welch presented by DuSable Museum of African American History (October 18, 2013 - March 30, 2014)
  • Open House Chicago presented by Chicago Architecture Foundation (October 19-20)
  • Art and Appetite: American Painting, Culture, and Cuisine at the Art Institute of Chicago (November 10, 2013 - January 26, 2014)
  • League of Chicago Theatres Fall/Winter Season

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