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Chicago named America’s #2 City to visit by Condé Nast Traveler

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has announced Chicago has been named the nation’s #2 travel destination in Condé Nast Traveler’s 29th annual Readers’ Choice Awards. Among the list of the America’s top large cities, Chicago moved up from last year’s third place ranking, passing San Francisco. The news follows last week’s announcement that the James Beard Awards are extending their stay in Chicago.

“Chicago is breaking tourism records and creating thousands of jobs that reach every corner of the city,” Mayor Emanuel said. “This recognition shows that our efforts to bring even more visitors to the city are working and driving economic opportunities in Chicago's neighbourhoods.”

Due to a strong response from Chicago’s food community, last week the James Beard Awards announced plans to extend their stay in Chicago to 2021 – four years past the planned end of their Chicago run. 2015 marked the first time that the James Beard Foundation held its annual awards ceremony outside of New York City, selecting Chicago as its first host city. The event draws visitors from across the country. Last month Mayor Emanuel announced the return of the Chicago Architecture Biennial in 2017. The event is designed to build on the inaugural 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial, which was the largest international exhibition of contemporary architecture in North America, attracting more than 530,000 visitors from around the country and world.

“We’re thrilled and proud to have Chicago recognised among the top destinations in the U.S.,” David Whitaker, President & CEO of Choose Chicago, said. “The Readers’ Choice Awards is a great example of the influence and importance of building a destination’s brand and it’s a testament to the incredible communities and businesses that make up Chicago’s visitor industry.”

Chicago saw record tourism performance in the first three quarters of 2016, moving the city even closer to Mayor Emanuel's goal of 55 million visitors annually by 2020. In 2015 the city welcomed more than 52 million visitors, which supported an estimated 139,800 jobs. Direct spending by visitors last year reached an estimated $14.9 billion - a 34 percent increase since 2010.

“As we continue to build awareness about Chicago and all the reasons that make it one of the greatest global cities, it is an honour to be given the distinction of being one of the best by Condé Nast’s Readers’ Choice Awards,” Desiree Rogers, Board Chair of Choose Chicago said.

Condé Nast Traveler also named 20 Chicago hotels to the list of the America’s best hotels. The Virgin Hotel Chicago and Thompson Chicago claimed the #1 and #2 spots in the top ten list of best U.S. hotels.

The Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards are the longest-running and most prestigious recognition of excellence in the travel industry and are commonly known as “the best of the best of travel.” In the annual survey more than 300,000 dedicated readers – nearly twice as many as last year -- cast votes for 7,394 hotels, 606 cities, 500 cruise ships, and 236 islands.

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