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Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Don Welsh, President and CEO of Choose Chicago, today announced the opening of Choose Chicago’s fourth office in China in Chengdu, the largest city of the Sichuan Province. This announcement follows a meeting of the 25th session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade in Chicago where businesswoman and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Mayor Emanuel hosted a Chinese government and business delegation led by China’s Vice Premier Wang Yang.
“We are committed to the Chinese market,” said Mayor Emanuel. “That is why in 2013, Chicago became the first U.S. city to expand beyond our tourism and trade operations in Beijing and Shanghai and into China’s third largest city, Guangzhou. Now, by expanding our operations into Chengdu, the City of Chicago will have the opportunity to become the most visible U.S. destination in the Sichuan Province.”
As Chicago marks the first anniversary of its Gateway Cities Partnership with eight cities in China, the Chengdu office builds on Chicago’s continued investment in the market, which now represents the leading inbound overseas market for Chicago with 128,000 Chinese visitors.
“With seven daily nonstop flights and growing from China, and one of the fastest growing domestic markets for new hotel development, there has never been a better time for the City of Chicago to welcome more Chinese visitors,” said Welsh. “This is the first time in Chicago’s history that China has surpassed the United Kingdom as Chicago’s largest overseas inbound market. Mayor Emanuel recognizes the enormous potential of Chicago’s visitor industry – particularly in China – and continues to invest.”
Choose Chicago’s office in Chengdu will be its fourth office in China. With a booming population of more than 16 million people amongst its nine districts, it is the fourth most populated city in China.
“We want to aggressively go after Chinese market share from the Sichuan Province,” said Welsh. “Having a marketing presence in Chengdu makes a statement to these high spend international travelers that we want their business.”
By 2020, it is estimated more than 5 million Chinese visitors will travel to the U.S. from current levels of under 2 million. Chinese visitors stay an average of 9.8 nights in Chicago, spending over $5,000 per trip.
Tourism is a vital, essential part of Chicago’s economic strategy. When Mayor Emanuel took office in 2011, the City of Chicago had approximately 40 million visitors a year. Three years later there are over 48 million visitors a year. In September 2014, Mayor Emanuel and Choose Chicago announced that that Chicago set multiple tourism records for the summer 2014 travel season and is on pace to achieve Mayor Emanuel's goal of 55 million visitors a year by the year 2020 and create 30,000 additional jobs.