Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Thursday that Chicago hosted a record 54 million visitors in 2016, an increase of 1.5 million visitors from the previous year.
“Three years ago we set a goal for Chicago to reach 55 million visitors by 2020,” Emanuel said in a statement. “We had an incredible and record-breaking year in 2016, but we are not stopping there. We have seen increases in jobs and investment from out tourism industry, which is creating economic opportunities that reach every neighborhood in the city of Chicago.”
According to the mayor’s office, Chicago’s tourism industry supported an estimated 145,137 jobs and $15 billion in direct tourism spending in 2016. During Thursday’s press conference, Emanuel noted that the city has added more than 20,000 jobs in the hospitality industry since he took office in 2011.
The mayor also pointed to the city’s thriving convention industry and the potential of the upcoming Obama Presidential Library as opportunities for the city to increase its surging tourism numbers.
“2017’s got to beat 2016,” Emanuel told reporters Thursday.
Despite the record tourism numbers, the city continues to see a surge in violent crime. According to data from the Chicago Police Department, 2016 was one of the most violent years in the city since the mid 90’s.
President-elect Donald Trump tweeted urged Emanuel to seek federal help if local authorities can’t handle the city's violence.
Emanuel’s office responded later Monday, signaling a working relationship with the Trump administration. Emanuel met with the president-elect last month at Trump Tower in New York City.
"We are heartened he is taking this issue seriously and look forward to working with the new administration on these important efforts," Collins added.
Additionally, “60 Minutes” aired a segment Sunday titled “Crisis in Chicago,” bringing renewed national attention to the city’s murder rate and police department.
In the segment, former Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy claimed the CPD is “in crisis.” McCarthy was fired as the city’s top cop in 2015 as outrage grew over the police shooting of Chicago teen Laquan McDonald.
Current Supt. Eddie Johnson dismissed McCarthy's claim Wednesday during a press conference alongside Emanuel, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
“Superintendent McCarthy put a lot of good things in place that we’re still utilizing, and he served the city well,” Johnson said. “But I disagree with characterizing us as a department in crisis because we’re not.”
Last year, Emanuel announced a bold plan to hire 970 additional CPD officers over the course of two years to combat the city’s rising murder rate.
However, the city’s Law Department was sanctioned Tuesday for withholding records involving a fatal police shooting, the Chicago Tribune reports. This marks the eighth time in recent years a federal judge has punished the city for failing to turn over potential evidence in a police misconduct case.
“The Law Department has addressed that and it’s unacceptable because people deserve better,” the mayor told reporters Thursday.
The U.S. Department of Justice is preparing to release a report on the Chicago Police Department before president Barack Obama leaves office later this month, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. The DOJ probe was set in motion by the McDonald killing.