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Chicago loses the G-8, but not tourism and businesses revenue

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and oth...
NATO Ministers of Defense and of Foreign Affairs meet at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Despite announcements that the G-8 summit is being moved from Chicago to Camp David in Maryland, several Chicago officials said the loss of the event will not hurt tourism here.

Jennifer Martinez, NATO and G-8 Host Committee spokeswoman, said even though the G-8 conference will not be held here, the NATO summit is still scheduled for May 20-21.

She pointed out that six of the G-8 nations are members of NATO, and their representatives will travel to Chicago following the G-8 summit in Maryland.

“It is an amazing opportunity for us to highlight Chicago to the world,” said Martinez.

She said all the countries in NATO are expected to send large delegations to Chicago for the event, which will ensure many hotel and restaurant bookings.

Illinois Rep. Ken Dunkin (D-Chicago), chairperson of the Illinois Tourism & Conventions Committee, said managers of Chicago hotels and restaurants are looking for more guests.

“Restaurants don’t make money if their dishes are not dirty,” he said.

Dunkin said many businesses in Chicago were intimidated by the G-8 event and were going to adopt extra security measures to protect their locations. The eventual losses they could incur because of the White House decision to move the G-8 could be reduced by the money they will not have to spend for security, he said

Dunkin also said he agrees with President Barak Obama’s decision to move the G-8 to Camp David, so that U.S. officials can control the area and make sure that the international leaders have a successful meeting.

“A lot of people are relieved that it’s not coming,” he said.

Andy Thayer, lead activist of the Coalition Against NATO / G8 War & Poverty Agenda (CANG8), said the White House decision is a victory for the group because it demonstrates the unpopularity of the event.

“Once again they had to move it,” he said.

Thayer said even if the G-8 was moved to Maryland, CANG8 is going to continue its Chicago protests because they believe that NATO is the military power behind the G-8.

Host Committee spokesperson Martinez said a delegation from the Chicago host committee will travel to the NATO headquarters in Brussels on March 20 to discuss the upcoming summit.

She said the committee would highlight food, entertainment and everything Chicago has to offer when members meet with the NATO planners. Members of the committee will encourage NATO representatives to “arrive early and stay late,” she added.

Other officials agreed that the city will not suffer from the decision to move the G-8 out of Chicago.

“We win, no matter what. Chicago has been mentioned across the world as the host of the G-8,” said Illinois Rep. La Shawn Ford (D-Chicago), member of the Illinois Tourism & Conventions Committee.

Ford said President Obama has “a lot of advisers” who recommended that the G-8 summit be relocated.

“The No. 1 mission for the city is to keep tourists and residents safe,” Ford said.

Even though the G-8 summit has been moved out of Chicago, residents here should congratulate themselves on being chosen earlier to host the event, he said. He said this was good news for Chicago, and it was an indication that the city is considered safe enough to host a large summit.

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