President & CEO, Choose Chicago
David Whitaker is the President and CEO of Choose Chicago, Chicago’s Convention & Visitor Bureau. Chicago currenty welcomes over 52 million visitors annually (only one of three citys in the United States with that distinction). In addition to overall Marketing, Public Relations, Digital Media and Global Trade Development programs launched domestically and in key international markets to support Chicago’s Visitor Industry, Choose Chicago also has a mandate to target, negotiate and confirm 55 new major convetion bookings each year representing 2.5 million room-nights in future business for partner hotels and McCormick Place (North America’s largest and most successful convention center) as well as working to successfully serve and host an equal number of meetings each year many which routinely enjoy record attendance and participation by choosing and convening in Chicago.
Prior to joining Choose Chicago, David was Chief Marketing Officer for Brand USA, the destination marketing organization for the United States in partnership with the US Department of Commerce.
Before Brand USA, David was president and CEO of Tourism Toronto for 8 years (2007- 2015). While leading Tourism Toronto routinely set new visitor arrival records fueled by significant growth in visitors to Canada from the United States and abroad as well as the primary sales and booking responsiblily of Toronto’s Convention Center. During this period on two separate occasions Tourism Toronto was named the Number One CVB/DMO in North America in a poll if over 650 meeting planners. During his tenure, Toronto’s hotel industry ranked as high as the 6th highest hotel occupancy in North America – more than doubling previous performance.
Before joining Tourism Toronto, David spent 17 years with the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau most recently as the Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer where he helped shape Miami’s image. Miami routinely ranked in the top three cities in the nation in terms of hotel occupancy and internatinonal visitor arrivals.
Chicago is home to O’Hare and Midway International Airports which served nearly 100 million passengers in 2015. O’Hare International Airport was one of the world’s busiest airports in 2015 serving 77 million passengers processing over 875,000 flights. O’Hare ranks second in the world in measured by the number of flights in 2015 and 4th worldwide in the number of passengers.
Choose Chicago currently serves and partners with over 1,500 association members representing leading attractions, museums, restaurants, shopping and entertainment districts, meetings and trade show vendors and venues and a direct membership client roster of over 145 hotels.
When not focused on promoting one of North America’s leading leisure and meetings destinations, David and his wife Lily are avid boaters currently enjoying the vibrant waters of Lake Michigan.