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  #1  
Old Posted May 22, 2016, 6:29 PM
Kngkyle Kngkyle is offline
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How would you ignite Chicago tourism?

The Chicago Tribune has an editorial out seeking new ideas from the public that would help boost Chicago tourism. We've all seen the gondola idea and most here weren't too keen on it. So what new ideas do you have? We all already know of the problems that need to be fixed - crime, schools, the budget, etc. so let's steer clear of that and focus on new attractions that could be added.

A couple bits from the editorial:

Quote:
Such a sprawling new attraction, Geller and Raizin say, would generate economic development across the downtown, grow jobs and catapult Chicago higher into the big leagues of most-visited cities on earth. Geller estimates that the privately funded gondola would cost $250 million and draw 1.4 million visitors a year to Chicago. "The Skyline is a prime example of how we can move Chicago from old guard to vanguard," Raizin says. "We kept coming back to the same question: What's our unique feature? Where's our Eiffel Tower? Where's our Big Ben?"

Geller adds the why-bother: "Nothing can as quickly impact jobs and growth in the city as tourism."

The aerial gondolas may or may not happen, of course. We can't say whether funding materializes, whether vertical supports could be integrated into an already-crowded downtown, or whether people actually would clamor to ride in these ski-lift-like cable cars across Chicago. (We would!)

Raizin and Geller have a slew of other ambitious ideas: to create brilliant light shows in a string of Chicago parks, to illuminate the tops of Chicago's skyscrapers and other iconic buildings (think Marina City's corncobs). They want to create an entertainment district in a Cermak Road corridor linking McCormick Place, Chinatown and the Chicago River. They would float spectator and performer barges on the river for opera performances and project opera scenes on the Lyric Opera House facade. "If we did everything we wanted to do, tourism could add 100,000 jobs to Chicago," Geller predicts.

Those are their Big Ideas.

Now, readers: What are yours?
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/o...520-story.html
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  #2  
Old Posted May 22, 2016, 7:00 PM
the urban politician the urban politician is offline
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I wasn't aware Chicago had a problem with tourism. What it does need more of is international recognition. The solution is to advertise in foreign markets.
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  #3  
Old Posted May 23, 2016, 3:23 AM
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Yeah I agree. If anything I think they probably get more tourists than someone might normally expect.

I think their goofy tourist trap ideas aren't going to help though. They've gone on a few too many winnebago trips, and gimmicky roadside attractions might attract people who were already vacationing in Chicago but idk if they'd draw more visitors.

I think having some kind of concerted effort for high quality cultural things would help the most. Architectural tourism is a thing, even if niche, but it seems like general tourism is also architecture/urbanism based. People want to see Hassuman's Paris, the canals of Venice, the neon of Hong Kong. And then there's other cultural stuff like music and movies. People like going to London and other English cities to see all of the rock music stuff, LA to see movie stuff. So I think making a concerted effort to build more cultural heritage, or to retroactively articulate a historical narrative... I think that's the best way of doing it. And then of course doing enough advertising that that is actually communicated to people who otherwise wouldn't have a chance to learn about it.

But I'm no tourism expert.
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  #4  
Old Posted May 23, 2016, 4:25 AM
Kngkyle Kngkyle is offline
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Originally Posted by the urban politician View Post
I wasn't aware Chicago had a problem with tourism. What it does need more of is international recognition. The solution is to advertise in foreign markets.
I don't think anyone said there is a problem with tourism. It's just smart policy to always be looking for ways to enhance what we already have or add new attractions to draw more tourism $$ to the city. I would say that the city has done well with this in recent years with the Navy Pier makeover, riverwalk additions, and Maggie Daley Park. The idea here is to discuss what should or could be done next.
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  #5  
Old Posted May 23, 2016, 6:06 PM
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Easy government fix: Capitalize on the increased TV production and give tax incentives for movies SET and FILMED in Chicago. Filming only and letting people think it's New York only makes people want to visit New York. Eventually, one of these movies will make it big (billion plus revenues); that's 2 hours of Chicago advertising around the globe.

Somewhat doable: submarine tours of the lake departing navy pier, a climbing wall along the full height of a major skyscraper, a major new museum (ok fine, not that).

Not so easy/infrastructure: Express rail to/from O'Hare, a domed stadium like normal cities so we can host every sporting event, cap the Kennedy and make Millennium Park West, glass ceilings and other indoor greenhouse areas in major parks so they are usable in winter.
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  #6  
Old Posted May 23, 2016, 7:30 PM
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Originally Posted by chiphile View Post
submarine tours of the lake departing navy pier,
unfortunately, i don't think there's much to see down there.

Last edited by Steely Dan; May 23, 2016 at 10:16 PM.
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  #7  
Old Posted May 23, 2016, 8:28 PM
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as long as crime dominates the international headlines, nothing will change.
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  #8  
Old Posted May 23, 2016, 9:25 PM
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Like TUP said, I don't know how much it needs to be ignited. It seems to be doing well.

International tourism needs to be bolstered, but that won't happen overnight. Events like the Chicago Architectural Biennial help, as do things like the growing strength of Expo. I think the idea of an international theater festival is a great idea as well.

What the city really needs to advertise is its livability to young professionals/couples making $75-150k salaries but getting choked on cost-of-living in coastal cities. Also, artists and creatives slumming it in NYC/LA because it's where they 'need to be'.

Chicago's most marketable quality is big city livability, and it could easily become the US's Berlin if it starts attracting a greater amount of ambitious creatives and professionals who patronize things like film festivals and collect art. In turn, that will boost tourism. Look at how Berlin's share of international tourism has developed with its identity as a capital of experimentation in art.
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  #9  
Old Posted May 23, 2016, 10:14 PM
Kngkyle Kngkyle is offline
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A few thoughts for everyone to shoot down -

- Some sort of boat parade down the Chicago river. We have a lot of parades down State Street and Columbus but nothing on the river. Why not? This is a unique feature to Chicago and moving one of the holiday parades to the river could be something unique to the city. Of course it would have to be done right, and not like whatever that Fire Fest fiasco was a few years back.

- Why are there virtually no cruise ships on the great lakes? Toronto, Mackinac Island, Chicago, and Montreal are all desirable tourist destinations just to name a few potentials. There aren't even any ferries from Navy Pier to say, Michigan City, Muskegon, Benton Harbor, etc. All are desirable beach destinations from Chicago.

- This one is pretty far fetched and probably not even possible, but it would be extra cool and unique - tubing down the Chicago River. Obviously the water is too polluted in it's current state, but if they allowed more Lake Michigan water through the locks to essentially 'flush the toilet' could the water between Lake Shore Drive and Wolf Point be clean enough for swimming? Doing this would likely require a high water level on the lake - which right now is at a near record high and up almost 4 feet from 2013.
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  #10  
Old Posted May 23, 2016, 10:21 PM
ithakas ithakas is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kngkyle View Post
Just two thoughts -

- Some sort of boat parade down the Chicago river. We have a lot of parades down State Street and Columbus but nothing on the river. Why not? This is a unique feature to Chicago and moving one of the holiday parades to the river could be something unique to the city. Of course it would have to be done right, and not like whatever that Fire Fest fiasco was a few years back.

- Why are there virtually no cruise ships on the great lakes? Toronto, Mackinac Island, Chicago, and Montreal are all desirable tourist destinations just to name a few potentials. There aren't even any ferries from Navy Pier to say, Michigan City, Muskegon, Benton Harbor, etc. All are desirable beach destinations from Chicago.

These are both great ideas, particularly the latter. Imagine being able to take a ferry like Seattle's to their adjacent islands from central Chicago to the most popular beach towns in the area on a Friday evening, and returning on a Sunday without being stuck in traffic. As I recall, their ferrys have storage for cars (ferry podiums? lol), which would be helpful for people who own beach houses nearby.

As far as the river, this was supposed to happen last fall, but I don't think it worked out unfortunately: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/c...008-story.html
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  #11  
Old Posted May 23, 2016, 10:26 PM
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Build a few casinos downtown...Illinois needs to stop trying to pretend they are to high and mighty to have gambling in Chicago. Make it look like the 1893 worlds fair white city instead of the cheap looking Vegas style casinos. Blow peoples minds with the classic look.
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  #12  
Old Posted May 23, 2016, 10:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kngkyle View Post
- Why are there virtually no cruise ships on the great lakes? Toronto, Mackinac Island, Chicago, and Montreal are all desirable tourist destinations just to name a few potentials.
there are cruise ships on the great lakes:

http://www.greatlakescruising.com/

http://www.pearlseascruises.com/crui...-lakes-cruise/




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Originally Posted by Kngkyle View Post
There aren't even any ferries from Navy Pier to say, Michigan City, Muskegon, Benton Harbor, etc. All are desirable beach destinations from Chicago.
milwaukee has a ferry to muskegon and manitowoc has a ferry to luddington, but those are the only two cross lake ferries on lake michigan. chicago is probably too close to the bottom of the lake to run a profitable ferry service. the cost to cross on the other two ferry lines on lake michigan is quite expensive (~$300 for a family of 4 and their car, and that's only one-way!) and at that price the VAST majority of people in chicago would much sooner just drive around the bottom of the lake than pay a lot of money for a ferry crossing.
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  #13  
Old Posted May 24, 2016, 12:05 AM
Kngkyle Kngkyle is offline
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Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post

Yea, I've seen these before. The prices are unreal. $5,000 for a 7-day cruise for the second one. The equivalent in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, or Pacific can be had for $500. Yea I know, it's going to be more expensive since the ships have to be smaller and whatnot, but come on. I think the biggest difference is the staffing costs. Since these cruises don't operate in international waters they have to pay the employees according to US/Canadian laws.

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Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
milwaukee has a ferry to muskegon and manitowoc has a ferry to luddington, but those are the only two cross lake ferries on lake michigan. chicago is probably too close to the bottom of the lake to run a profitable ferry service. the cost to cross on the other two ferry lines on lake michigan is quite expensive (~$300 for a family of 4 and their car, and that's only one-way!) and at that price the VAST majority of people in chicago would much sooner just drive around the bottom of the lake than pay a lot of money for a ferry crossing.
Yea, I've seen these as well. I don't think cars need to be accommodated on any ferry from Navy Pier though, and that would presumably make the fares a lot cheaper (cars tend to weigh a lot and take up space). These would mostly be day trips or weekend trips to resort towns along the coast where there is some pedestrian-friendly infrastructure in place. I'm actually rather surprised these towns don't lobby or even subsidize such a service in the first place... you would think with the record number of tourists coming to visit Chicago, let alone the 10 million odd people living here, they could make a business case for it.

Michigan City is ~38 miles from Chicago by water. That is a brisk 1-2 hour trip. Benton Harbor is ~60 miles, so probably 2-3 hours. Muskegon is ~115 miles which might be a bit of a stretch for quick daytrips. Sure, you could drive there or take Amtrak and get there in similar times, but boats are cooler.
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  #14  
Old Posted May 24, 2016, 2:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Kngkyle View Post
Yea, I've seen these as well. I don't think cars need to be accommodated on any ferry from Navy Pier though, and that would presumably make the fares a lot cheaper (cars tend to weigh a lot and take up space).
even without a car, a roundtrip ticket on Lake Express from milwaukee to muskegon for a family of four is still $390!!! that's a lot of dough for a day trip. but that's an 82 mile trip, so a shorter crossing to michigan city might be able to be half that, but even at that price a lot of people will still balk and just drive.





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Originally Posted by Kngkyle View Post
Michigan City is ~38 miles from Chicago by water. That is a brisk 1-2 hour trip. Benton Harbor is ~60 miles, so probably 2-3 hours. Muskegon is ~115 miles which might be a bit of a stretch for quick daytrips.
those times seem a bit high. Lake express, a modern high-speed catamaran style ferry, takes 2.5 hours to traverse the 82 miles from milwaukee to muskegon (32.8 mph average), so a michigan city trip would only be just over an hour, and benton harbor just shy of 2 hours. michigan city would be a very doable day trip. benton harbor starts pushing it (4 hours is about as long as i'd be willing to sit on a ferry for a day trip), and muskegon would be out of the question.



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Originally Posted by Kngkyle View Post
Sure, you could drive there or take Amtrak and get there in similar times, but boats are cooler.
agreed, boats are way cooler. and if michigan city and blue chip casino teamed up to subsidize a ferry to/from navy pier, i could see it potentially working.

Last edited by Steely Dan; May 24, 2016 at 3:20 PM.
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  #15  
Old Posted May 24, 2016, 3:22 PM
the urban politician the urban politician is offline
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It is piss poor collaboration among Great Lakes states and cities that partly explains why these sorts of arrangements don't ever occur.

I long ago argued, for example, to create a Lake Michigan tourism campaign to encourage outsiders to visit all of the attractions around LM during the warmer months of the year. But nobody sees such collaboration between the States happening.

Nobody has any marketing money either
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  #16  
Old Posted May 24, 2016, 10:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Kngkyle View Post
- This one is pretty far fetched and probably not even possible, but it would be extra cool and unique - tubing down the Chicago River. Obviously the water is too polluted in it's current state, but if they allowed more Lake Michigan water through the locks to essentially 'flush the toilet' could the water between Lake Shore Drive and Wolf Point be clean enough for swimming? Doing this would likely require a high water level on the lake - which right now is at a near record high and up almost 4 feet from 2013.
The wastewater going into the Chicago River is now disinfected and well below the recommended guidelines for swimming. The bigger issue is pollutants in the sediment along the bottom/sides, which may not go away naturally for centuries unless the river is thoroughly and completely dredged.

There are also CSO events where raw sewage flushes into the river during rainstorms, but those should decrease as Deep Tunnel comes online.
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Old Posted May 24, 2016, 10:43 PM
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Originally Posted by ithakas View Post
Chicago's most marketable quality is big city livability, and it could easily become the US's Berlin if it starts attracting a greater amount of ambitious creatives and professionals who patronize things like film festivals and collect art. In turn, that will boost tourism. Look at how Berlin's share of international tourism has developed with its identity as a capital of experimentation in art.
Interesting comparison. There's definitely a sort of Berlin-like aspect to the city's North Side/South Side dichotomy (or most Midwestern cities really)

I'm not sure the conditions are the same, though. Yes, Chicago is relatively affordable on the whole. But we have a whole racial thing that is probably the biggest roadblock. Young creatives don't exactly see the South and West Sides as fertile ground for cheap housing, probably due to the Black legacy in those areas and the decimated cityscape.

Pilsen and Little Village are the West Side exceptions, but what happens there will always be a footnote to the broader trends in the city.

I WOULD like to see a greater allowance for artist live/work arrangements in manufacturing zones. There are precious few live/work spaces in the city and even the so-called "artist lofts" are work space only.
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  #18  
Old Posted May 25, 2016, 7:06 AM
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I think the continued expansion of the riverwalk in earnest to the north and south branches from Cermak to Montrose would be well worth the investment and should take top priority. I don't mean a mimic of the main branch but a more naturalized state fronted by small retail/food services and residential with complete pedestrian access. Obviously that would involve a slow displacement of the big box stores and heavy manufacturing/industry (save maybe Goose Island) fronting the river now. The tour boats that meander down the main branch should be compelled to move well beyond Chicago and Roosevelt.

I think more then ever many "Millenials" are looking for unique dynamic urban playground. The city does have a unique asset with its lake and river and its incumbent on the city to let the public have full unfiltered access to it. The city should look to Hamburg, Oslo, and Rotterdam to see how they are transforming their waterfronts for inspiration.

Cities are made distinct by its interaction with its natural features. Be it Amsterdam/Hamburg/Venice with their canals, San Fran/Istanbul/Rio with their hills. Hong Kong, Boston, Sydney for their harbors. With the river/lake the city has the chance to build an environment that truly stands out and can be made instantly identifiable to Americans and even many casual international observers.

Last edited by nomarandlee; May 26, 2016 at 3:29 PM.
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  #19  
Old Posted May 29, 2016, 2:17 AM
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I'd break this into two categories: 1. Getting more attention, and 2. Larger issues of content, image, etc.

1 is easy. Advertise. Encourage movies to be set/filmed locally as said above (sometimes that pays off hugely for tourism). Do the cheesy winnabago thing, because it keeps Chicago on people's minds.

2 is harder. The top tourism cities are emblematic of something people like -- they're #1 in major categories of whatever type. Paris, London, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Sydney, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Prague, Rome, Miami, DC, Boston...each is iconic for something. This isn't due to their tourist traps.

There's some room to build an iconic image of some kind, but it's not easy. I don't see an obvious easy solution, but small moves are helping. Millennium Park and the building boom are steps forward.

But a city can win without being #1 in anything. Beach towns don't need to be #1 to go nuts with tourists, they just need to be #20. Cities can work that way. Chicago is great to visit. With more advertising, movies, etc., it can move higher in on the list of cities people do after they've seen New York, or when they want a closer/cheaper destination. Than can mean strengthening attendance from nearby states, getting more people from other states/provinces that also have direct flights, and gaining some mind-share from other countries. The same effort can get conventioneers to extend their stay by a day or two and invite the spouse along.

To help 1 and 2, Chicago can focus on being the greatest city possible.

Actually there's a #3. Make life easy for tourists. Wayfinding, cleanliness (good job on this), a faster train to O'Hare, some paint on the El, a pedestrian crossing from the waterfront directly to McCormick Place so mhays doesn't have to walk another mile south....
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  #20  
Old Posted May 29, 2016, 3:22 PM
the urban politician the urban politician is offline
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This is silly, Chicago gets tons of tourism. It's near the top of the nation. It totally blows SF away. The primary issue is relative lack of international tourism. That needs to be the new focus
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