May 18, 2015 

Vincent Zheng
Choose Chicago - Shanghai office
+86 185 0161 1591

Kara Carmichael
Choose Chicago
+1 312 567 8587

CHICAGO, IL - Choose Chicago today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for cultural cooperation with the China International Culture Association, under the guidance of the Ministry of Culture of the People's Republic of China. The MOU signifies a commitment to further develop cultural ties in an effort to strengthen each as a prominent global cultural tourism destination.

"China is now Chicago's largest inbound overseas market," said Don Welsh, President and CEO of Choose Chicago. "Mayor Emanuel recognizes the enormous potential of Chicago's visitor industry - particularly in China - and continues to invest. We are committed to the Chinese market, and it is with great pride that Choose Chicago signs this MOU today. We look forward to a rewarding cultural exchange that educates and enriches the experience for all of us and further drives cross-cultural tourism."

Diplomatic and business exchanges between Chicago and China remain a focus for Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The partnership comes five months after Chicago welcomed the 25th Session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) in December 2014, where U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Mayor Rahm Emanuel hosted a Chinese government and business delegation led by China's Vice Premier Wang Yang. In 2013, Mayor Emanuel made his inaugural trip to China and Chicago hosted the China-U.S. Tourism Leadership Summit.

Mr. Zhao Haisheng, Deputy Director General of Bureau for External Cultural Relations, Ministry of Culture today joined Melissa Cherry, Vice President of Cultural Tourism & Neighborhoods, Choose Chicago for the signing. The cultural exchange, which celebrates Chicago's and China's rich artistic experiences, included a reception for travel trade and media. Joining Choose Chicago in Beijing were cultural leaders from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Architecture Biennial, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Chinese Fine Arts Society, EXPO CHICAGO and the Joyce Foundation.

Today's agreement signifies the beginning of a bilateral partnership to strengthen cross-cultural tourism initiatives in Chicago and China. Choose Chicago and the China International Culture Association will collaborate on strategic partnerships to drive visitation and promote cultural attractions and events from regional, national and international markets; educate cultural partners and travel trade through cultural

exchange missions and trainings; and enhance programming for, but not limited to, Chicago's Chinese New Year celebration, EXPO CHICAGO and the Chicago Architecture Biennial for 2015 and beyond.

"Today is a momentous day for Chicago," said Cherry. "This agreement will foster cross-cultural understanding and awareness of our performing and visual arts, music and architecture, which are the heart and soul of Chicago. The bilateral partnership will also further enhance the cultural collaboration between Chicago and China by introducing unique programming opportunities aimed at increasing visitation to our respective markets."

Today's signing of the MOU follows the launch of Chicago's first advertising campaign in China in collaboration with the Illinois Office of Tourism and with the support of Brand USA. The new leisure multi-media campaign began on May 4, 2015 and will run through June 30, 2015 in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. The campaign includes online video, digital display, paid content and social. The Chicago online video called "Chicago Epic," developed by FCB Chicago in collaboration with FCB Shanghai, highlights the epic experiences that Chicago offers, showcasing Chicago's award-winning restaurants, vibrant nightlife and shopping.

"The word epic describes something large and impressive, something beyond the ordinary in size or scope, and stories about legendary events or adventures. All of which describe Chicago and how we do things," said Welsh. "With seven daily nonstop flights from China and growing, there has never been a better time for the City of Chicago and Illinois to welcome more Chinese visitors. We are excited to show the Chinese market the magnificence of our city and what makes Chicago epic."

In 2013, Chicago became the first U.S. city to expand beyond its tourism and trade operations in Beijing and Shanghai and into China's third largest city, Guangzhou. In April 2015, Choose Chicago celebrated the opening of its fourth office in the City of Chengdu. The Chengdu office builds on Chicago's continued investment in the market, which now represents the leading inbound overseas market for Chicago with 128,000 Chinese visitors in 2013.

United Airlines is the official airline partner for the 2015 Choose Chicago China leisure packages to Chicago. In partnership with China CYTS Leisure & Sightseeing Travel Branch and Caissa Touristic, Chicago is featured for two nights in a variety of multi-city leisure packages to the U.S. Packages highlight some of Chicago's most famous attractions, including Cloud Gate at Millennium Park, the Magnificent Mile, The Art Institute of Chicago and Navy Pier. In celebration of this MOU for cultural exchange, the Chicago leisure packages include options to travel for one of Chicago's most prestigious cultural events, including EXPO CHICAGO (September 14-20, 2015), an annual international art fair at Chicago's Navy Pier presenting 140 global art dealers and galleries; the Chicago Architecture Biennial (October 3 2015-January 3, 2016), a citywide event featuring installations of design and architecture in the Chicago Cultural Center; and Chicago's 2016 Chinese New Year celebration, a citywide event with multiple attractions and cultural organizations celebrating the Lunar New Year.

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