CHICAGO – Mayor Rahm Emanuel raised his goal for the number of tourists who visit Chicago annually on Wednesday, the same day the city announced it had record hotel occupancy in 2013.
"We look forward to the year ahead as we continue to build momentum overseas and further position Chicago as the premier destination for U.S. travel," Emanuel said.
Emanuel previously hoped for 50 million visitors a year by 2020. Now he says he wants 55 million visitors annually by 2020. City officials say about 46 million people currently visit Chicago every year.
Emanuel announced new tourism efforts, too, including an international competition to light the city at night. The city will seek entries from artists, architects, planners and designers from the around the world, Emanuel said.
Chicago also plans to heavily promote both domestically and in China a citywide Chinese New Year celebration running from Jan. 31 to Feb. 14.
Meanwhile, Chicago tourism officials said the city had record hotel occupancy in 2013 of more than 75 percent. That beats the previous record set in 2007. Chicago had about 9.9 million occupied rooms in 2013 — a 2.3 percent increase over 2012.