Chicago consolidates tourism organizations
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has introduced a program that aims to save the city $1.3 million a year by combining the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau with the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture. The tourism bureau’s CEO and President Don Welsh will be CEO and president of the new organization. “Mayor Emanuel’s decision to streamline Chicago’s tourism marketing strategy makes strong financial and logistical sense,” said Welsh. “Our ultimate goal is to make Chicago the premier destination for domestic and international business and leisure travelers. Today’s decision will help the city more cost effectively advance and achieve this vision.”
The money saved by consolidating the two tourism organizations will be redirected to national and international marketing campaigns. Chicago currently has only three international sales offices and received less than 5 percent of the overseas travelers to the United States in 2010. New York City has 18 international offices and saw 32 percent of the 2010 international travelers. Welsh said he plans to open new sales offices in Canada, Brazil and Mexico.
Emanuel hopes to attract 50 million visitors annually to Chicago by 2020, which will bring nearly $4 billion a year to the city’s economy. “The mayor feels that a combined organization with a singular focus and website and all the resources of people [working together] is the most realistic way of achieving the goal,” Welsh said. The agencies will start working together immediately, followed by a formal launch this summer.