Chicago Anticipates Tourism Boost From Pow Wow

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CHICAGO -- Bursting with civic pride, tourism and local political representatives gathered for a press conference to herald the 1998 International Pow Wow, which will take place in Chicago from May 23 to 27 at McCormick Place.

Approximately 5,800 industry professionals, tour and travel producers and journalists from more than 70 countries are expected to attend, and it is anticipated that arrangements for roughly $3 billion worth of future inbound business to the U.S. will be made here.

Not lost on any of the speakers were estimates Chicago will realize an immediate $300 million economic benefit from hosting the event and reap long-term gains in the form of increased overseas visitors. About 60% of international tour and travel producers expect to increase the number of tours in their brochures that feature the host city, largely due to their experience at Pow Wow, the Chicago Host Committee said.

Maggie Daley, Mayor Richard Daley's wife, said Pow Wow will give Chicago another shot at capturing the "too many" international travelers who visit the East or West Coast and "miss this great city in between." "One of the most important sources of new jobs in Chicago is tourism," Daley said.

Donna Shaw, Illinois' tourism director, said Chicago already is the ninth-most-popular U.S. city destination for overseas visitors.

By bringing tour operators and foreign journalists in for a first-hand taste of the city, Pow Wow will enable Illinois and Chicago to go far beyond what they can accomplish through tourism advertising alone. "We are going to be able to grab them and touch them and get them excited," Shaw said.

Pow Wow is "not just another show," even though the name may draw the occasional "snicker," said Tom Kerns, senior vice president of marketing for the Travel Industry Association of America and Pow Wow's general manager. Tour firms represented at Pow Wow account for more than 80% of all organized tour business into the U.S., he said.

Gerald Greenwald, United's chairman and chief executive officer and Pow Wow cochair, said, "This is our chance. These folks really are here to do business."

Robert Crandall, American's chairman and chief executive officer and Pow Wow cochair said, "This conference will give a real boost not only to Chicago but to the world's biggest and fastest-growing industry."

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