Chicago impasse

By | Category: Travel rumblings
Chicago skyline

Chicago skyline

This year marks the thirtieth since I first visited Chicago. Since then I must have been back over a dozen times, one of the main reasons is that there is so much for the visitor to see, so much that Chicago is one of only three cities to see more than 50 million tourists per year.

To Chicago, tourists are responsible for 136,000 jobs and nearly $5 billion of revenue per year. Yet a few days ago, the body that promotes Chicago – Choose Chicago – made redundant 28 full and part-time jobs saying that the state has not paid over $7 million that it owes to the tourism promotion body from tourism specific taxes. This impasse has been going on for months yet the money can’t be spent on anything else, I understand. That is until a politician decides it can and gets a law through the state legislalture. It must be sitting in limbo somewhere earning a pathetic amount of interest. On the face of it Chicago will suffer because there will be less promotion and Choose Chicago says that the city will lose $750 million in economic impact, $90 million in hotel revenue, $15 million in tax revenue and potentially 7,000 jobs.

At this point I would normally say that tourism is a large economic growth source for any destination and that cutting funds is short-sighted and that down the line the destination would pay for it with reduced revenue and fewer visitors. Release the funds I would say and let Choose Chicago do what it does. Except that visitor numbers from overseas are have been dropping over the last two years and that has been at a time when the monies Choose Chicago has received have doubled to $33 million – a figure that British destinations could only dream about.

The money might be released when the stand-off between the warring politicians ends. But somebody then ought to see why such a city with such potential to attract tourists time and time again, can’t manage to increase overseas numbers particularly given more funds at its disposal than many countries have.

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