ChicagoTourismChicago set a tourism record in 2017 as an estimated 55.2 million visitors made a stop in the Windy City, according to initial estimates.
The visitor total is up 2.5 percent from the previous year, bringing with it economic benefits for the city and the state.

Travel Daily News estimated that the tourism industry supported 146,500 jobs in 2017, a 17 percent increase since 2011.

Hotels were a major beneficiary of the upturn in visitors, as there was a 7.6 percent increase in occupancy during the peak tourism season of June to September. In all, hotels saw a 3.3 percent increase over 2017, according to the city. The city also saw five new hotels open in 2017, with eight more scheduled to open this year.

Leisure visitors were a large part of the surge, spiking 6.3 percent, while business travelers saw a slight decline.

While events such as the NFL Draft helped draw visitors to the city in 2017, annual conventions drew more visitors than in previous years as well. Of McCormick Place’s 40 largest conventions, seven sold a record amount of exhibit space and 21 saw increased attendance.

There is reason to believe these trends will continue as Chicago seeks other marquee conventions in the coming years. The Global Business Travel Association convention is on that list, as the organization has committed to hosting the event in Chicago in July 2019. That event draws more than 7,000 business travel professionals from around the world.