Chicago’s many cultural and entertainment attractions draw 47 million visitors per annum, an increase of over 30% during the last ten years. In 2013, Chicago’s visitor growth increased 4.4% from 2012 and is poised to meet Mayor Emanuel’s goal of 55 million annual visitors by 2020, which the mayor raised in 2013 as tourism growth has rapidly outpaced expectations. The same year also set a city record for overseas tourists at 1.4 million. Additionally, the city continues to attract business travelers from around the world, bringing over 7 million overnight business visitors in 2012 and 2013, up nearly 7% from 2011 and an all-time high for the past decade. Overnight leisure visitors soared in 2013 to 18.7 million, a new record and 3.8% over 2012 levels. According to the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau, total direct spending from travelers in 2010 (the latest year available) was $11.1 billion, a 30% increase since 2002. Tourism provides approximately 124,000 jobs and generates over $100 million in annual tax revenue. 

Among the area’s most notable attractions is Navy Pier, Chicago’s most visited tourist attraction with 8.7 million visitors per year. The pier stretches out into Lake Michigan and offers a 150-foot Ferris wheel, musical carousel, and the Chicago Children’s Museum. The pier is also home to Shakespeare Theater as well as Festival Hall, an exhibition facility totaling more than 44,000 square feet. In fall 2013, Navy Pier began a $150 million makeover in which its outdoor area will be transformed into a more
social setting that involves 17 acres of new park space, dining and shopping upgrades, re-routing of roads, and a new amusement area. The modernization should be completed by spring 2015. Complementing Navy Pier is Millennium Park, which has garnered significant attention from visitors and become a regional landmark since its opening in 2004. Millennium Park houses the most sophisticated outdoor concert venue of its kind in the United States and currently hosts 4.5 million
visitors per annum (up 50% since 2007), making it one of the most popular destinations in Chicago. 

In September 2012, the Chicago Broadband Challenge launched free Wi-Fi in Millennium Park as the kickoff in its goal of outfitting the city with access to world-class internet access, including an infrastructure of gigabit speed fiber and free wireless access throughout parks and public city spaces. Numerous beaches in the area now also benefit from free Wi-Fi access.

Every year, Chicago attracts more than 9 million attendees and exhibitors to 36,000 annual events at some of the nation’s largest and best convention and trade show facilities. Convention bookings totaled 78 at McCormick Place in 2013, 22% higher than 2012. Chicago’s McCormick Place is the country’s preeminent convention and trade show facility comprising over 2.6 million square feet of exposition space, 2.2 million people attended events at McCormick Place in 2012. Two blocks west of McCormick Place, the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place recently completed a 460-room expansion with a new tower that opened in fall 2013 at a cost of $110 million, making the hotel the fourth largest in the city.