Tourism Bureau Says Chicago is "Second to None"

Chicago Sun Times: Chicago’s tourism boosters Tuesday will introduce a $6 million campaign, one that has some swagger in it, to draw more visitors to the city.

The Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau will begin marketing the city with a new slogan, “Chicago: Second to None,” reopen sales offices overseas that state government used to operate and establish a commission to attract professional and amateur sports events.

Money for the campaign comes from a legislative gift the bureau received last year, a doubling of the tax rate on taxi and bus operators that serve the Chicago airports. Most of the money was earmarked for the bureau’s use in promoting McCormick Place and local attractions.

The tax hike was part of a bill that upended longstanding labor practices at McCormick Place. But a federal judge has ruled the bill’s labor provisions illegal, setting back efforts to attract conventions based on lower costs at McCormick Place.

Bruce Rauner, chairman of the convention bureau, said the agency isn’t letting the decision hinder efforts to promote Chicago. “We’ll make sure that the image of McCormick Place is restored and enhanced,” he said, calling the convention hall both a “low-cost, high-quality destination” for meeting planners.

The campaign will be launched Tuesday at the convention bureau’s annual membership meeting. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago), an architect of the labor reform package, are due to speak on the tourism industry’s importance.

Warren Wilkinson, senior vice president at the bureau, called the campaign “purposeful, strategic marketing” designed to tout Chicago’s virtues with confidence and attitude. The new slogan tweaks Chicago’s image as the Second City and replaces “Make no little plans,” a saying attributed to architect and urban planner Daniel Burnham.

One ad calls Chicago “the city that ranks No. 1 in No. 1 rankings,” and another says it lacks only “a museum of museums.”

The bureau is a nonprofit organization that draws its budget from tourism taxes and membership dues. Wilkinson said its overall budget is increasing to $18 million for its coming fiscal year, up from about $15 million.

Bureau spokeswoman Meghan Risch said it will open tourism offices in the United Kingdom, Germany and Ireland, replacing state offices closed because of budget cuts. Others are under consideration, she said.

The agency is looking for an executive director to run the new sports commission, which will look for indoor and outdoor events. Chicago hoteliers especially want bookings for the bleak midwinter. A Super Bowl may be out of reach because Chicago has no domed football stadium.

The campaign includes improvements to the web site starting in November, Risch said.


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