Chicago tourists total 49 million in 2022, 80% or pre-pandemic high

(The Center Square) – The city of Chicago witnessed a 60% rise in overall visitation numbers in 2022, putting the city’s hospitality industry on its way toward a recovery from the crippling effects of the COVID-19 shutdowns by its 2025 target date.

“The energy we’re seeing of people returning to travel is really significant,” Choose Chicago CEO Lynn Osmond told Crain’s Chicago Business in branding 2022 a “really good recovery year.”

Just under 49 million visitors toured the city last year, with DK Shifflet, the city’s official destination marketing group, putting the count at roughly 80% of the record-setting 60.8 visitors the city welcomed in 2019 before being hit by the ravages of the pandemic.

In releasing its latest tourism report at the group’s annual meeting, Choose Chicago officials noted tourists pumped nearly $17 billion into the economy last year, equating to somewhere in the neighborhood of 89% of 2019 levels. Authorities added the city is on course to eclipse its 2023 goal of 54 million visitors.

On the hotel occupancy front, local hotels averaged 60% occupancy in 2022, sharply up from 43% the year before, though still below the 74% average in 2019.

While the resurgent numbers still leave the city slightly behind other major urban centers such as New York (85% visitation recovery) and San Francisco (84%), they also serve as an indicator of the city’s ability to attract visitors despite the growing safety issues now plaguing the downtown area.

“Every urban center is having this discussion,” she told Fox32Chicago.com. “It’s something that’s an American challenge.”

Going forward, Osmond said the outlook for Illinois looks brighter, pointing to such upcoming events as the July 1-2 NASCAR “street race” and the 2024 Democratic National Convention in August 2024.

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