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Choose Chicago Announces Tourism & Hospitality Forward to Responsibly Welcome Visitors Back to Chicago

May 25, 2020 Visit USA No Comments Email Email

At the Choose Chicago Annual Meeting today, the organization announced Tourism & Hospitality Forward, a new initiative to accelerate and spur Chicago’s tourism industry post-coronavirus and help expedite the City’s economic recovery. To date, a coalition of more than 250 local tourism, hospitality, meeting and event-related organizations and businesses have signed on to the pledge promising alignment, collaboration and socially responsible tourism and hospitality that will instill confidence in residents and visitors as they return to Chicago.

“This current crisis has been simply devastating to so many, including the tourism and hospitality industry, and we recognize that these unprecedented challenges require unprecedented and swift actions in order to restore this economic driver for the City,” said Glenn Eden, Chair of the Choose Chicago Board of Directors. “Our first priority is to promote socially responsible tourism. We will demonstrate to our guests that through the operational changes and precautions taken, it is safe to enjoy Chicago again.”

Chicago’s tourism, hospitality, meetings, and events industries were amongst the hardest hit by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. As the City transitions through a phased reopening, this alliance of industry partners will work together to establish best practices and safety measures for the health and safety of residents and visitors alike when cultural institutions, hotels, attractions and restaurants return to regular business and welcome guests.

“I applaud Choose Chicago’s commitment to developing safe, collaborative solutions to the profound impact COVID-19 has had on our city’s vital tourism and hospitality industry,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “Despite the challenges we face, the strength of our recovery is being built on forward-looking partnerships like these which are mutually supportive and rooted in the data of this disease, allowing us to build and grow more resilient, inclusive, and powerful than we’ve ever been.”

There are four components to the pledge:

  • SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE PLANNING: We will put the safety of our patrons and employees first by adhering to public health guidance and direction and become leaders in socially responsible tourism and hospitality.
  • DEDICATED AND STRATEGIC ENGAGEMENT: We will recognize the importance of taking a strategic and collaborative approach by dedicating the time to align across sectors and develop the phased plans we need to thrive in this challenging environment.
  • AUTHENTIC AND INCLUSIVE EXCELLENCE: We will work together to spur the traffic of Chicago visitors and guests by enhancing our efforts to create unique ways to leverage all of the city’s dynamic neighborhoods and authentic assets.
  • UNPARALLELED CHICAGO ADVOCACY: We advocate for all that Chicago has to offer by cross-promoting offerings and collaborating on shared offers to create a mutually beneficial environment for the industry and ultimately a stronger economy for the city.

Additionally, Tourism & Hospitality Forward announced an outreach and engagement framework that participants can leverage to bring visitors back to Chicago when the time is right. The framework includes:

  • Promoting Chicago’s reopening in a calibrated manner with programs and promotions, such as staycations, designed to engage local audiences.
  • Launching seasonal initiatives to bring leisure travelers to Chicago with an emphasis on neighboring states.
  • Reinforcing that Chicago will continue to be the best place to do business as the City competes for meetings and events.
  • Maximizing all Chicago has to offer through a unifying marketing campaign.

Planning has been underway with several working groups aligned by sector, including accommodations, museums and attractions, arts & culture, festivals, and special events including sports and a dedicated focus on unique and diverse neighborhoods.

“These groups initially began meeting to focus on initial and almost immediate reopening strategies,” said Eden. “They have now evolved and have been rolled up to collaborate with and support Mayor Lightfoot’s longer-term Reopening and Recovery Task Force, including marketing and economic development for the City as a whole.”

“The traditional visitor and convention delegate will remain our ultimate goal in the recovery process,” said David Whitaker, President & CEO of Choose Chicago. “In the early phases of reopening we are going to have to focus and rely on our local residents, nearby suburban and regional visitors and the drive market as a whole. While they will be the first to easily return to their favorite spots and activities, they can also be ambassadors as we welcome guests and visitors back to Chicago.”

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