Overnight Visitation to Philadelphia Grows

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On July 6, 2011, the U.S. Travel Association released a report by Dr. Bill Siegel of Longwoods International that shows how destinations benefit from sustained, effective marketing. Entitled The Power of Destination Marketing, the report chose Philadelphia and Michigan as case studies of tourism marketing programs that drive greater visitation, generate new tax dollars and create jobs for states and local communities.

In Philadelphia, a 1995 report by The Pew Charitable Trusts identified leisure travel as a potential replacement industry for lost manufacturing jobs. This led to the creation of the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation in 1996 by Pew, the City of Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to promote the region to leisure travelers. Through a sustained marketing program over the last 15 years, Philadelphia’s image has transformed and visitation has surged, delivering returns to the city and state.

"Fifteen years ago, Philadelphia was considered a two-hour stop," said Meryl Levitz, founding president and CEO of GPTMC. "Then we became on overnight sensation, and now we are a premier destination where visitors stay for multiple days and come back several times a year."

Since 1997, overnight visitation to Greater Philadelphia has grown 66 percent, six times faster than the national growth rate of 11 percent. GPTMC's most recent campaign began in 2009 in the midst of the deepest and longest economic downturn since the Great Depression. With a budget of just $4.3 million in 2009/2010, With Love, Philadelphia XOXO® generated 3.7 million incremental trips to Philadelphia.

This innovative tourism campaign injected $432 million in visitor spending and $24 million in new state tax revenue and $22 million to local governments. The marketing program also generated over 7,000 additional jobs for Greater Philadelphia at a reasonable cost of $600 in advertising for each job created.

According to the U.S. Travel Association's 2009 annual Survey of State Tourism Office Budgets, 31 states cut funding for tourism advertising and marketing by 13 percent, or $52.7 million, between 2008 and 2009.

To read the U.S. Travel Association’s press release, click here.

To read The Power of Destination Marketing in its entirety, click here.