As we mark National Travel & Tourism Week in the U.S. and in Philadelphia, and celebrate at a Travel Rally Day at the May 8 Phillies game, please take a moment (or two) to think about the impact that travel has on our city, our region and our country. The travel business is, in fact, a big business — bigger than the U.S. auto industry — and the third-largest industry in this region, employing 134,000 people from all of our neighborhoods.
Our global travel team, along with regional partners, just returned from U.S. Travel's International Pow Wow convention where we spent four days promoting our outstanding destination to top-of-the-line global tour operators, travel agents, media and industry experts.
Whether it was the American democracy experiences found in Historic Philadelphia, famous scenic movie locations like the Rocky steps, world-renowned arts and culture such as our Mural Arts Program and the Barnes Foundation, our world-class universities like Penn, Drexel and Temple, or our continuing spirit of innovation incubating technology, science and fashion, there was an amazing buzz among travel influencers about us — Philadelphia. And these influencers want to do business in the U.S. and see Philadelphia as a place where they can.
We were also a proud part of a major announcement from Brand USA, the organization that is charged with marketing the USA abroad, supported by the new Travel Promotion Act. We believe this new campaign will only help to increase the number of people coming into to the U.S., and ultimately to the Philadelphia region, through a major marketing campaign that we will be participating in with other U.S. destinations, allowing us to expand our message around the world.
What that means to you is that more and more visitors will come to Greater Philadelphia where visitor spending already generates $24 million a day in economic impact for the region (Tourism Economics). Now, more than ever, we need to do a great job welcoming them so they want to return and tell their friends.
So, as you set out on your day today, whether you drive or ride a SEPTA bus, work or dine in one of our outstanding restaurants or at Reading Terminal Market, or are meeting with corporate leaders for a business meeting or at a convention, remember each and every one of us has moments in our day to make amazing first and last impressions.
Please take this week to experience and appreciate your own backyard, and do something great to provide a visitor, customer, coworker or even a neighbor, with a special experience. And remember that we are all in the travel industry together.
Jack Ferguson is president and CEO of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau and Meryl Levitz is president and CEO of Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation.