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Chicago's Epic Tourism Campaign Axed In Epic Budget Cuts

By Rachel Cromidas in News on Jun 30, 2015 8:35PM


Chicago's latest tourism campaign, Epic, is about to end two months early thanks to epic budget cuts at the state level.

Choose Chicago, the city's tourism program, is losing 40 percent of its operating budget in the latest set of state budget cuts, according to Crain's. That means Epic, the (perhaps unimaginative) summer tourism campaign launched in April with a TV ad encouraging viewers to "be part of something epic," would end July 1 rather than run through the summer. Unless they are talking about an epically rainy June, the campaign ending this early wouldn't leave much sizzle in the summer tourism industry.

Choose Chicago CEO Don Welsh said in statement that the program will lose most of its funding, from the state hotel tax, unless there is a last-minute approval of the state's 2016 fiscal budget—increasingly unlikely as the week progresses.

Welsh said Choose Chicago is likely to lose out on $7.2 million it was due this year from that tax and another $12 million from the state that would have kicked in July 1, according to Crain's. The state is poised to begin the new fiscal year without a budget after Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed most of the General Assembly's budget proposal.

The loss of Epic could deal a blow to Mayor Rahm Emanuel's vow to boost tourism to 55 million visitors by 2020. Crain's says Rauner, who was once the chairman of Choose Chicago, believes tourism is a boon to the local economy.