Like a true global city, Chicago's tourism agency just axed half of its international presence. According to Crain's, the semi-private Choose Chicago's 2015 budget will end its sales contracts in Frankfurt, Tokyo, Sao Paulo, and London, and shut down operations in Utrecht, Netherlands, after a drop in annual visitors from their respective countries last year. The $300,000-a-year foreign marketing offices will remain in their Toronto and Mexico City locations however, and the agency may open a fourth Chinese bureau in Chengdu. Additionally, Choose Chicago will collaborate with the Illinois Office of Tourism's locations in some of the countries they are bailing on to re-focus spending in places that saw an increase in visitors to the city.
Last year, Chicago remained the ninth most visited foreign travel spot in the U.S. since 2012, but National Travel and Tourism Office data shows that Illinois' overall share of overseas visitation [PDF] dropped behind Massachusetts. Illinois Governor-Elect Bruce Rauner served as the unpaid chair of the Choose Chicago board between 2010 and early 2013.
Tourism is growing in Chicago, and this is helping contribute to the city's recent hotel boom. However, if Rauner and Mayor Emanuel really want Chicago to become the 5th most popular U.S. travel destination and reach 55 million visitors by 2020, they may wanna reconsider all those Choose Chicago clout hires they let slide. Then again, nothing says "Welcome To Chicago" quite like a scandal.
— Jason Prechtel
Check out the city's internet promo efforts below:
·Chicago tourism boosters rethink overseas strategy [Crain's]
·Previous tourism coverage [Curbed Chicago]