Chicago in Tourism
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and David Whitaker, President and CEO of Choose Chicago, today announced that projected hotel room demand and hotel occupancy continue to grow in the first half of 2017 as Chicago remains adestination for major meetings and conventions as well as leisure travel.Hotel room demand is projected to set records in each of the first six months of 2017 with year-to-date rooms occupied at the end of June projected to be up 4.0 percent. The 4.0 percent increase is fueled by growth in leisure visitors and group/meetings visitors. Hotel occupancy rates for Chicago also grew, now averaging a projected 70.7 percent rooms-occupied for the first six months of 2017. This continuously growing demand for hotel rooms occurred while room supply growth of 3.2% occurred, a result of three additional hotels opening in the first six months of 2017.
"Over thepast six years, Chicago's tourism industry has strengthened our city's economy, allowing us to show off our world class city to leisure travelers and convention attendees alike," said Mayor Emanuel. "The record setting hotel performance so far in 2017 is just the latest indication of a strong tourism sector, and we look forward tocontinuing to break our own recordsas more visitors choose towork, play and vacation inChicago."
Convention travel continues to be a strong force behind the growth in hotel demand and occupancy rates. Of the 28 major conventions that met in Chicago during the first six months of this year, five experienced record attendance figures, five more experienced increased attendance above the previous year, four completely sold-out available exhibit space, and three had record sales in exhibitor space.
June is expected to conclude on a high note as the American Library Association wrapsup its annual convention this week. The Associationannounced conventionattendance s exceeded22,700 – the highest attendance of any host city since they last met in Chicago in 2013. Additionally, the Lions Clubs International is returning to their birthplace for their 100thLions Clubs International Convention June 30 through July 4. Approximately30,000 people will attend the convention this week, with nearly 70 percent of the attendees being international visitors from over 130 countries.
"We're quite encouraged with the record pace of visitor demand overall and the success that our major conventions are experiencing when they convene here," said David Whitaker, Choose Chicago President and CEO. "We are particularly pleased with the significant growth in leisure visitors, as this increase adds an additional economic impact to so many of our industry partners. These visitors are the ones who return home and become ambassadors as they share their Chicago stories."
The growth in hotel room demand may be fueling an increase in employment. Based onIllinois Department of Employment Security data, Choose Chicago forecasts that 1,519 new jobs will beadded to the leisure and hospitality sector in the first six months of this year.
A record 47,000+ fans celebrated the great sport of hockey this past weekend at Chicago’s first-ever NHL Draft, hosted at the United Center. Highlights included Blackhawks stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews stopping by Fan Fest, and fans lined the block to take pictures with the Stanley Cup. Congratulations to all the rookies entering the ranks of the NHL, and huge thanks to the Chicago Blackhawks, the United Center and all of our partners - what a great success!