DuPage tourism looking to stand on its own
Local tourism officials long have used DuPage's proximity to Chicago as a selling point to attract visitors to the county's shopping malls, downtowns and hotels.
From now on, however, DuPage is going it alone.
The DuPage Convention & Visitors Bureau this week launched a new brand and strategic direction for tourism that involves marketing the county without emphasizing that Chicago is just 20 miles away.
"We love Chicago," said Beth Marchetti, executive director of the bureau. "When Chicago does well, everybody does well. But as a $2.5 billion industry, we felt we had enough power to stand on our own and really talk about the DuPage brand."
Officials say the rebranding represents the most significant effort to market DuPage in more than 16 years. It's the culmination of more than a year of a strategic planning process called GPS: A Tourism Roadmap.
Marchetti said officials believe it's the right time to capitalize on the "special amenities" that set DuPage apart from other counties. While it doesn't have a Magnificent Mile, officials say, it offers visitors miles of magnificent shopping, entertainment and dining opportunities.
In a new visitor's guide released this week, articles promote a variety of sites, including Cantigny Park in Wheaton, Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oak Brook and Morton Arboretum in Lisle.
The brand launch also is being supported by a comprehensive advertising campaign that includes digital, transit, and billboard components.
The ads feature a new tagline: "DuMore in DuPage."
It's a departure from other slogans the bureau has used, including "Chicago's Metro West" and "Beyond Chicago's Skyline."
"We will always be partners with Chicago," Marchetti said. "But we just want to promote DuPage County because we feel we can start making a name for ourselves in the tourism world."
DuPage is home to the second-largest tourism industry in the state, featuring hundreds of businesses that employ more than 22,000 people.
With tourism having a $2.5 billion impact on DuPage's economy, county board member Tonia Khouri said leaders in the private and public sector must work together to ensure the county's tourism industry remains competitive.
"The new brand that we are celebrating today is another step toward growing our tourism industry -- and by extension -- our economy," said Khouri, who serves as chairwoman of the county board's economic development committee.
Khouri joined county officials, municipal leaders, state lawmakers and dozens of others Tuesday evening to see the brand launch rollout and logo unveiling in Wheaton.
She said she supports the bureau's decision to focus on what DuPage has to offer as a stand-alone destination for leisure and business visitors.
"We're not Chicago," she said. "What makes us unique is all of our open space. I think they did a wonderful job tapping into that."
Tourism officials are partnering with the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County to promote the county as a premier health and wellness, outdoor, and recreation destination.
Forest preserve President Joe Cantore said more than 4 million people use the district's 62 forest preserves to bike, hike, fish and do other outdoor activities.
"Nature makes us healthier, sharper and happier," Cantore said. "That's why it's imperative to continue to advance our cause to connect people to nature, whether they be homeowners of DuPage County ... or even business guests traveling from out of state."
Cory Jobe, director of the Illinois Office of Tourism, said 83 percent of the nearly 110 million visitors the state welcomed in 2016 were "leisure visitors." He said DuPage will have an opportunity "to engage with those visitors who are looking for something unique and something new."