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2018 a record year for tourism in Chicago

Visitors to Millennium Park — home to the famous Cloud Gate sculpture, more commonly known as "The Bean" — flock to take photos there. | Sun-Times file photo

Last year was a record breaker in terms of visitors to the city, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Friday.

About 57.6 million people visited Chicago in 2018, a 4.3 percent increase over 2017, the mayor’s office said.

“When it comes to attracting tourists and business travelers, Chicago can go toe-to-toe with any city in the world,” Emanuel said in a statement. “By continuing to set new tourism records and bring millions more people to Chicago every year, we are creating jobs and economic opportunities that reach every neighborhood.”

Emanuel noted seven new hotels were built in the city last year, with seven more set to open in 2019. Tourism in the city supported about 150,000 jobs last year — an increase of 22,000 jobs since 2011, the mayor’s office said.

Of those coming to the city from overseas, the biggest increases last year were from folks arriving from Brazil, up 16.2 percent; the United Kingdom, up 14.1 percent; and Italy, up 10.9 percent, the mayor’s office said.