Philadelphia Breaks Travel and Tourism Record

philadelphia tourism newsUS Department of Commerce Reports 2007 International Visitors to Philadelphia Reached an all-time high of 550,000; a 26% Increase from 2006

Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau’s International Marketing Efforts Capitalized on a favorable exchange rate and new European flights from US Airways

The United States Department of Commerce Office of Travel and Tourism Industries (OTTI) announced on Friday that Philadelphia hosted a record-breaking 550,000 international visitors in 2007, an increase of more than 100,000 from the previous year. Philadelphia is one of only two cities that reached a record level of international visitors in 2007. Seventy-five percent of the new visitation was driven by a sharp increase in the number of travelers from the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau’s (PCVB) primary target markets of the United Kingdom, Germany, and France.

“This increase is evidence that the PCVB’s targeted international marketing for our city, combined with flight growth to Philadelphia International Airport and dollar value created by the current exchange rate, has paid off in attracting record numbers of international visitors to Philadelphia,” said Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. “If our city is to compete in a global marketplace we need to continue to tell the Philadelphia story to people around the world so that they choose to travel to America’s birthplace.”

For Philadelphia, this news reflects the continuation of an upward trend in visitation that began in 2002 as a result of accelerated international marketing activity, even as the United States as a whole began to experience a decline in visitation in the post 9/11 environment. The City is now the 12th most-visited U.S. city for international visitors.

“The marketing question for Philadelphia when we planned for 2007 was ‘How do we capitalize on the exchange rate?’” said Fritz Smith. “We have tailored much of our marketing message to address the ‘City Break’ Market, the phenomenon of international people taking short four-to-five day trips to the U.S. to fill up their suitcases with new clothes, electronic gadgets, and sporting equipment.”

The PCVB’s 2007 international campaign was partially funded by a grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, with support from the City of Philadelphia, Philadelphia International Airport, and the PCVB. The PCVB has tailored much of its marketing efforts recently to web-and radio-based promotions in Europe. The organization also tailored a portion of its recent marketing messages to a younger audience, partnering with the State Tourism Office to promote spas and the culinary scene, and the City on the international portion of the innovative UWISHUNU campaign to attract a more web-savvy traveler in collaboration with GPTMC.

In 2007, US Airways expanded international air service into Philadelphia International Airport. The airport itself is making significant infrastructure improvements, and was earlier this month ranked by J.D. Power & Associates as number one in customer satisfaction.

Attracting international visitors is a major priority of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau as seen in its strategic plan, completed in 2007, “From 30,000 Feet: Raising Philadelphia’s Profile as a Global Destination.” To show that commitment, the PCVB now features content about the city in nine languages (French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, Chinese – Simplified and Traditional, and Japanese) on its web site ( With nearly 200 pages of content about the city translated in other languages on the site, the PCVB has the most comprehensive international offerings of destination marketing organizations in the country.

In addition to Philadelphia’s European target markets, two Asian countries; China and Korea showed surprising growth generating nearly 18,000 visitors each. The Chinese National Government recently loosened travel restrictions on leisure travel to the United States.

PCVB President Tom Muldoon is optimistic about Philadelphia’s potential to raise its international profile further. “With US Airways’ continued expansion plans into Asia and beyond, the Barnes Foundation’s planned move to the Ben Franklin Parkway, an aggressive effort to bring international sporting events to the region – a legacy of the Philadelphia 2016 Olympic bid effort – and the imminent debut of several well-known international hotel brands coming as a result of the Pennsylvania Convention Center expansion, Philadelphia is in a perfect place to become a ‘must-visit city’ for the international traveler.”

About Office of Travel and Tourism Industries

OTTI, which is housed in the International Trade Administration, Manufacturing and Service Bureau, Services Division, is charged on a federal level to expand travel and tourism business opportunities for employment and economic growth. Directed by the National Tourism Act of 1996, it is OTTI’s responsibility to perform critical tourism functions such as collecting and publishing comprehensive international travel and tourism statistics and other marketing information.

About the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau

Who we are: The Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PCVB),, a private non-profit membership corporation, is the official Tourism Promotion Agency for the City of Philadelphia, and the primary sales and marketing agency for the Pennsylvania Convention Center. The PCVB competes with its counterparts worldwide for convention and tourism business. The organization has departments dedicated to the multicultural, sports, and life sciences markets.

Our mission: To generate economic impact and job growth by increasing the region’s hotel occupancy and revenues, while concurrently affecting other diverse segments of the hospitality industry. To do whatever it takes to attract ethnically diverse regional, national and international convention and tourism customers through creative sales, marketing and communications efforts. To deliver exceptional service and experiences for all, ensuring repeat business across market segments. To increase the quality of life for all our citizens, stakeholders, and visitors by supporting the region’s vibrant arts and entertainment, historic, cultural, retail, restaurant, and sports venues.

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