U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow issued the following statement reacting topotential cuts in state funding for Choose Chicago, the organization charged with promoting the city as a travel destination:
“The travel community nationwide is deeply alarmed and disappointed that the budget impasse in Springfield has resulted in the threatening of funding for Choose Chicago, the tourism marketing organization whose positive contributions to the economies and tax bases of both Chicago and the state of Illinois are absolutely beyond question. Choose Chicago is the MVP of ROI—letting its funding lapse now would be like trading Jordan after the Bulls’ first championship.
“Fiscal politics are challenging at every level of government, but we implore Governor Rauner and the state’s legislative leaders not to make the mistake of confusing spending with investment. Promoting Chicago as a destination has paid undeniable fiscal and economic dividends for the city and state, and we have seen overand over again that governments which have interrupted funding for tourism marketing have paid en enormous price in the hyper-competitive national and global travel market.
“A year ago, as we celebrated an enormously successful travel trade show in Chicago that was projected to generate $1.7 billion over the next three years for the city, I was extolling Illinois as a place that ‘gets it’ in terms of embracing travel as a powerful economic driver. We urge the governor and legislature to redouble their efforts to find a budgetary path forward that sustains Choose Chicago, the curtailing of which would only worsen the state’s fiscal dire straits.”