Media Contact: Michelle Gonzalez,

Leisure, business and major meetings travel begin rebound first half of 2021.

September 1, 2021, Chicago – Choose Chicago today shared indicators of continuing recovery for Chicago’s tourism and hospitality industries. Key performance indicators for the first half of 2021 suggest that tourism’s post-COVID recovery has positive momentum, with Chicago undergoing a successful summer travel season.

“Tourism and hospitality remain two of Chicago’s most critical industries, as they impact residents across every zip code and every neighborhood,” said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “Business owners and employees within these industries have been at the frontlines of this crisis, making it all the more important that we leverage opportunities through organizations like Choose Chicago to uplift them. Thanks to this support, our tourism and hospitality communities have been able to not only remain laser-focused on ensuring a socially responsible and equitable recovery, but also generate revenue that bolsters our city’s overarching COVID-19 response.”

Key summer performance indicators include:

  • Summer (June/July/August) hotel room demand is expected to exceed 2 million room nights representing 60% of the rooms booked in summer of 2019. This yielded close to $400 million in hotel revenue and over $69 million in taxes to city, state, and local municipalities.
  • The inventory of rooms in the city has returned to 98% of previous peak capacity, with 43,921 daily rooms available.
  • Chicago recaptured nearly 90% of the average room rate for a typical summer in the city.
  • Summer hotel occupancy topped out at 51% with a July rate of 57.5%, the best occupancy rate since February of 2020
  • Weekend room demand was also a strong supporter of hotel performance with an average summer weekend occupancy rate of 71% and a rate of 85% on Lollapalooza weekend.
  • Choose Chicago’s Seize Your Summer campaign generated more than $79M in hotel revenue between May 1 and August 11. Additionally, the campaign drove 4.8M searches for hotels and 500,000 searches for flights. Concurrently, the Expedia campaign drove more than 121,000 room nights with estimated hotel revenue of $44M between May 3 and August 19.
  • Based on mobile cellular data provided by Near (formerly Uber Media), more people have been going to the neighborhoods. In the West Loop, 74% of 2019 levels have come back, while in other neighborhoods like Lakeview and Hyde Park, we already see 2021 reaching and potentially surpassing pre-pandemic levels. This is in part thanks to the city’s expanded outdoor dining program that increased the capacity of restaurants to serve outside and in the public way.
  • McCormick Place and city hotels hosted 135 meetings this summer, welcoming 479,000 attendees and generating over 92,000 room nights with an economic impact of over $190 million.
  • Employment in the hospitality industry reached a high mark in the city of 159,589 in August 2019 and fell to a low of 74,491 in May 2020. Leisure and hospitality employment has increased 45% from May 2020 to June 2021, with steady increases in the past five months.

“Since the beginning of COVID, our priority has been to support our partners and our City in recovering while ensuring the safety and health of our visitors,” said Glenn Eden, Chair, Choose Chicago Board of Directors. “These results are a testament to the wisdom of that strategic approach. We are thrilled to see positive trends while continuing to remain vigilant in this ever-changing environment.”

Looking ahead beyond 2021, Chicago’s tourism and convention business outlook remains cautiously optimistic:

  • The pace of Choose Chicago’s business and convention hotel room bookings (the percent of average bookings met for a given year) currently exceeds 100% of target through 2028, suggesting a strong pipeline of events looking to host their meeting in Chicago.
  • Short-term, hotel-based meetings currently on the books of Choose Chicago is encouraging yet subject to an ever-evolving environment with 380 events booked between August 2021 and December 2022. These events represent 576,000 room nights producing $19 million in state and local hotel taxes and $781 million of estimated economic impact for the city.
  • Major meetings at McCormick Place currently on the books of Choose Chicago between August and December 2022 suggest renewed optimism with 72 shows, attracting 1.4 million attendees representing 1.7 million room nights and generating $56 million in state and local hotel taxes with an estimated economic impact of $2.54 billion. Fourteen meetings will be in Chicago for the first time.

As part of the organization’s renewed neighborhood strategy, Choose Chicago is featuring areas across the city in an effort to drive more visitors to the city’s diverse and unique communities. Choose Chicago has partnered with neighborhood ambassadors to produce authentic, community-made content that highlights local small businesses and popular attractions. This approach ensures that local voices and priorities are being amplified. The content will be featured on bus stops and billboards across Chicagoland beginning October 1st in a never-done-before campaign to promote Chicago’s neighborhoods.

Choose Chicago, along with the city’s tourism and hospitality industry, are looking forward to an exciting line-up of events and festivals throughout the fall spanning the arts, culture, and music. Fall festivals are already underway with the Chicago in Tune concert series, organized by the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, happening now through September 19, 2021. The remainder of the year will be marked by the reopening of Chicago’s theatres, cultural happenings throughout the city and holiday season celebrations.

“Bringing visitors to Chicago is not just our mission, it is our passion,” said James Meyer, Interim CEO, Choose Chicago. “From our partners to our staff, we are 100% committed to welcoming guests to Chicago with health and safety top of mind, creating jobs and driving economic impact for the city.”

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About Choose Chicago

Choose Chicago is the official sales and marketing organization responsible for promoting Chicago as a global visitor and meetings destination, leveraging the city’s unmatched assets to ensure the economic vitality of the city and its member business community. For more information, visit Follow @choosechicago on Twitter and on Instagram. Like us on Facebook.