1st female CEO of Chicago's tourism bureau on how she'll bring tourists back to city

Lynn Osmond has been head of Chicago Architecture Foundation for 25 years
CHICAGO (WLS) -- The ABC7 I-Team spoke one-on-one with Lynn Osmond, who was named Chicago's first female CEO of the city's tourism bureau.

"I have really just grown to love this city and I am really excited to be marketing it and selling it to the world," says Lynn Osmond, the newly appointed President and CEO of "Choose Chicago."

She's the first woman to hold and run the city's tourism and convention agency. "I am very proud of that and I think there is a real opportunity to provide mentorships for women who want to go into the tourism and convention industry because it is dominated by males."

Consumer I-Team Reporter Jason Knowles talked with Osmond at the Chicago Architecture Center. She currently runs that agency. The city says Osmond was appointed to her new role after an extensive global search overseen by the "Choose Chicago" Board.

Knowles asked if businesses need to be brought back in order to attract tourists.

"There is a transformation going on post Covid," Osmond replied. "We are seeing more residential buildings come downtown."

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Knowles told Osmond about the I-Team's report in October that uncovered a more than 19% vacancy rate on the Mag Mile, a sharp increase from a low vacancy rate in 2019. In addition, the I-Team also found the Loop's 26% vacancy rate was up from a historic low of 10% in 2015.

Osmond's reacted by saying, "First of all, we have to get our narrative back. I think the narrative has become negative post-Covid and challenges we had during Covid and I think we as residents need to talk, not trash talk the city .. we need to talk positively."

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She also says experiential retail like Starbucks Reserve, Chicago Roastery on Michigan Avenue, is the future. "I think that is the opportunity we need some creative minds that are looking at, what are the trends that we are seeing coming out of places like Japan, China, Dubai, those are the leaders in experiential retail."

Osmond also acknowledges that crime is a challenge and could potentially detour businesses from moving downtown.

"We have a great police department and we are really doing a lot in terms of public safety," Osmond said. "You see them on the Mag Mile, you see them on State Street. They are there to help us and protect us and I feel confident in their ability to do that."

So after 25 years, Osmond will step down from her role as President and CEO of the Chicago Architecture Center. She will take on the same title at Choose Chicago in May.
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