By Dana Kozlov

(CBS) – It’s more than a convention. Experts say a travel show taking place in Chicago right now could translate into a billion-dollar boon for Chicago.

CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports.

The goal of hosting the show here is to showcase the best of this city to 6,000 travel professionals from 70 different countries.

The payoff? Tourists and their money.

They may gather under one giant roof. But McCormick Place is only a gateway to the rest of Chicago for these international travel professionals. And that’s how city leaders want it.

From sky to ground, travel professionals are getting a true taste of Chicago outside convention walls — with hopes it will impress them enough to talk it up to folks back home and boost tourism here.

That influx of cash is only the beginning. The potential revenue can’t be ignored, especially when city and state leaders continue to grapple with massive budget deficits.

So far, Chicago seems to impress.

First-time visitor Helena Beard of Brighton, England says the shopping and the pizza have already won her over.

“It kind of reminds me a little bit of New York, but a little bit friendlier,” she says.

Attendees have three more days to see the city before a final farewell gala on Wednesday night. Chicago singer Jennifer Hudson will be the headliner at that party.

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