Chicago Sets Tourism Record
You would think with Chicago's crime problems, featured prominently in news stories around the world, tourists would be staying away in droves. You would also be wrong, as it turns out.
How many tourists visited Chicago last year? Is it:
a) 5 million
b) 10 million
c) 25 million
d) 51 million
If you went with "D," you'd be just about right. The actual number of tourists to visit Chicago last year was 50.97 million. That's about 4.5% increase over 2014's record performance, and it marks the very first time that Chicago has ever hosted over 50 million visitors.
Crain's Chicago Business has some details:
The official number from McLean, Va.-based tourism research firm DK Shifflet & Associates, which beat the city's forecast from late last year of 50.38 million visitors, marks the fourth consecutive year that domestic tourism to the city has risen. DK Shifflet is the data provider for the U.S. National Travel and Tourism Office.
The numbers of both foreign and domestic visitors are way up, along with more business travelers. City Tourism Bureau in Chicago sets the number of foreign tourists at around 1.3 million, which beats predictions.
The strong tourism numbers translated into a record year for downtown Chicago hotels.
Despite adding 2,200 new hotel rooms—a 5.6 percent jump from the year before—Chicago's central business district posted an average daily room rate of $206.30, a 5.3 percent increase year-over-year and the highest on record, according to hotel research firm STR.
Revenue per available room, a key measure of hotel room demand, also increased by 5.7 percent to $156.54.
The result: the city of Chicago pulled in $124.1 million in hotel tax revenue.
Tourism experts seem to think that this year could be a "setback year," due to fewer major trade shows in the city, combined with a fall-off in long term bookings from the Great Recession. But, that's a future problem. For now, Chicago is basking in the financial glow of a record-setting year of visitors.
As the late Yogi Berra once said, "That place is so crowded, no one goes there anymore."