City celebrates Independence Hall's 40th anniversary as a World Heritage Site

Forty years after Independence Hall became a World Heritage Site, Philadelphia officials proclaimed World Heritage Day on Thursday.

Mayor Jim Kenney made the proclamation during a ceremony at Independence Hall, in celebration of the landmark's designation as one of only 23 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the United States.

The Site designation, in 1979, paved the way for tourist growth and eventually led to Philadelphia's designation as a World Heritage City in 2015. The UNESCO recognition helped draw millions of people here over the decades, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in economic output.

"Visitors flock to World Heritage Sites across the globe each year, drawn by the outstanding universal value to humanity that these sites represent," said Zabeth Teelucksingh, executive director of Global Philadelphia Association.

A Heritage City designation has the potential to move the economic needle — Philadelphia's could increase foreign visitation by 60,000 to 100,000 more visitors annually, according to a report by Econsult Solutions commissioned by Global Philadelphia. Domestic visitation could increase up to 2% a year, generating an added $100 million to $200 million a year in impact.

"As a global city, it is in our interest to fully leverage Independence Hall's UNESCO status to build ties with other World Heritage Sites, of which there are close to 1,100 worldwide," Teelucksingh said. "These cultural connections can lead to new international business opportunities for Philadelphia."

The 55-acre Independence National Historical Park is the top tourist attraction in Greater Philadelphia, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal Book of Lists. The 4.6 million visitors in 2018 spent spent $270 million, according to National Park Service data, generating $401 million in economic output for the areas surrounding the park.

Visitor spending supported 3,870 jobs, $154 million in labor income and $249 million in value added.

Independence Hall was designated a World Heritage Site in 1979. Independence National Historical Park has attracted millions of visitors throughout the decades. Click here for more details. (Source: National Park Service)

Article originally written and published by Kenneth Hilario – Reporter, Philadelphia Business Journal