Leisure travel is booming in the region, according to a new report by the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation.
The report revealed that the region welcomed 38 million domestic visitors for 2011.
“We thank the city, state, civic organizations and everyone for making the investment in the attractions and amenities that have made Philadelphia a much better place for visitors,” Meryl Levitz, president and CEO of GPTMC, said during its annual hospitality luncheon held at the Barnes Foundation.
Tourism is a major economic driver for the region. According to the report, visitors to Philadelphia generated an economic impact of $9.6 billion for 2011 and supported 86,000 jobs. Levitz noted that overnight trips to the region have grown and are up by 71 percent since 1997, when GPTMC started marketing the region as a tourism destination. Last year, visitors generated $315 million in tax revenue for Pennsylvania and $285 million for regional municipalities.
The 28-page report also notes that Philadelphia’s hotels outperformed the national average in 2011.
During the hospitality event, Levitz touted the city’s first coordinated visual marketing campaign — With Art Philadelphia. Launched in May with 14 collaborative partners, the campaign showcases Philadelphia as a visual arts powerhouse.
The two-year, $2 million campaign leverages the energy of the Barnes Foundation opening in order to generate sustained attention on one of the world's great art destinations, draw new audiences and spur overnight stays from visitors worldwide. The campaign highlights the city’s visual arts collections, Benjamin Franklin Parkway museum district, the city’s gardens and the city’s art-focused colleges. As the campaign expands, it will aim to include even more art venues, programs and events in neighborhoods throughout the region.
“With the help of many partners we’re aiming to put the city’s art scene on the map where it belongs with the Barnes as the tipping point to give us that opportunity to showcase what was always there,” says Levitz.
She also highlighted the success of the With Love, Philadelphia XOXO Campaign which seeks to increase visitation to the region. The campaign’s slogan was recently recognized by Frommer’s as one of the 15 best in the tourism industry.
Today marks the official launch of a two year campaign designed to encourage tourists to venture into city neighborhoods.
The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Tourism (GPTMC) has launched the Philadelphia Neighborhoods campaign which spotlights 14 of the visitor-ready areas that surround Center City through social media presence and advertising. The project encourages tourists and locals to explore the neighborhoods’ storied streets, restaurants, emerging art galleries, independent shops, music venues, parks and annual festivals.
“People want to explore the neighborhoods of a city in addition to the downtown to fully immerse themselves in the destination and to really get to know it – repeat visitors especially,” said GPTMC President and CEO Meryl Levitz.
“We want visitors to go one more block and this campaign is a win for visitors, a win for neighborhood visitors and a win for the city’s cool factor.”
The 14 neighborhoods include Bella Vista, Callowhill, Cedar Park, East Passyunk, Fairmount, Fishtown, Graduate Hospital, Northern Liberties, Pennsport, Powelton Village, Queen Village, Spring Garden, Spruce Hill and University City.
Levitz said these neighborhoods were identified based on their proximity to Center City and their amenities.
The campaign is being funded by an $800,000 grant from the William Penn Foundation.
“Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods, each with its own distinct personality and attractions from museums and music to restaurants and historical venues, not to mention great shopping,” said Mayor Michael Nutter.
“Our goal is to encourage visitors and residents alike to look at what all of Philadelphia has to offer, beginning with these 14 vibrant neighborhoods surrounding Center City.”
The campaign uses the website visitphilly.com/neighborhoods, which offers insight into the each neighborhood by providing more than 600 new attraction listings, descriptions, itineraries, maps, videos and photos.
GPTMC will use social media to spread the campaign’s message. User generated content will feed into the site via Instagram and FourSquare, enabling people to see what other visitors are experiencing in the city’s neighborhoods.
Michael Harris, executive director of the South Street Headhouse District, which represents more than 400 businesses, hailed the new initiative.
“This is an economic development tool,” Harris said in reference to the campaign.
“We’re in the business of keeping businesses and attracting businesses, filling vacant storefronts, getting new people here and getting people excited about all of the possibilities of opening a retail or restaurant in our neighborhood,” said Harris.
Prior to launching the initiative, GPTMC conducted a year of research and planning to determine which neighborhoods would work best for the campaign.
Would you consider an investment in which for every $1 spent there is a $100 return?
Such an investment deal is now before Philadelphia City Council.
Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown wants to increase the hotel tax by 0.3 percent and send the extra money to the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation.
“The tourism industry in this town is superb in that it equals 52,000 jobs in Philadelphia and 88,000 for the region,” said Reynolds Brown. “Further, when our city agencies like GPTMC spend $1 on marketing, it equals $100 spent by visitors.
Reynolds Brown said the increase would add less than $1 to a typical hotel room bill and would help make up for lost state funding.
State funding has dropped down to $180,000. If council enacts the hotel tax, the increase could generate about $2 million a year. The revenue would be evenly split between the GPTMC and the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau.
A plan that results in such a tremendous return on its investment and that so positively impacts on job creation in the region is a smart investment that deserves of city council’s support.
A city council committee has approved the plan and a final vote is expected soon.
You would expect those in the business community, especially the hospitality industry, to be all supportive of the plan.
But hotel managers and owners in Philadelphia are now opposing the plan after initially expressing support for it.
Jim Gratton, chairman of the Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association, told a city council committee his group now opposes the measure because hoteliers were refused stronger representation on the board of GPTMC.
Gratton said until the representation issue is resolved the association is withdrawing its support of the bill.
The association should be reminded that GPTMC is a private, non-profit organization that promotes and represents not only the hoteliers but the entire tourism and hospitality industry in the city and the five county region (Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties).
In 1997, GPTMC launched its first consumer campaign inviting people to visit the five-county region.
GPTMC under the leadership of its president and CEO, Meryl Levitz, says it is responsible for expanding Philadelphia regional tourism worth $8.7 billion in economic impact and accounting for more than 85,000 regional jobs annually. In 2010, the region welcomed 37.4 million domestic visitors, 33.1 million of whom were leisure visitors. The region now welcomes 10 million more leisure travelers than in 1997, when GPTMC first started marketing.
Short-sighted squabbles should not delay city council from approving a modest hotel tax increase that could help promote leisure travel to the Greater Philadelphia area which could lead to more hospitality revenue and jobs for the region.
While Philadelphia is the 5th most walkable city in the U.S., many of its residents prefer to remain within the borders of their neighborhood.
So, when the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) announced the launch of a new campaign—Philadelphia Neighborhoods—Mayor Michael Nutter served as tour guide to celebrate the campaign and to commemorate National Travel and Tourism Week, taking place May 4-12, 2013.
“We want to promote our neighborhoods to tourist and visitors, but I’ve had an idea for 10 to 15 years: that we actually need to promote our neighborhoods to fellow Philadelphians,” said Nutter during Monday’s tour, as a trolley-full of passengers lumbered from Center City, to West Philly and back around to South Philly.
Nutter offered a series of numbers for thought: “27, 38, and 89: $27 million a day generated by tourism in the city of Philadelphia; 38 million visitors in the city, many of course who are generating that $27 million, and it’s 89,000 people who depend on the creative economy and tourist related activities for their jobs here in the city. And so, this is very, very important to us,” he said.
“This Philadelphia Neighborhoods Campaign, well, we are the quintessential city of neighborhoods,” the mayor added. “Ask any Philadelphia and pretty much after they tell you their name, they are either going to tell you where they went to high school or they’re going to tell you what neighborhood they grew up in. That’s who we are and that’s what we are about, and often that will tell you a great deal that you might want to know about that particular person. So, if you’ve heard me say more than 1 million times that I’m from West Philly, it’s why.”
The neighborhoods included in the project are Fishtown, Northern Liberties, Callowhill, Spring Garden, Fairmount, Queen Village, Bella Vista, Pennsport, East Passyunk, Graduate Hospital, University City, Powelton Village, Spruce Hill and Cedar Park.
“Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods, each with its own distinct personality and attractions from museums and music to restaurants and historical venues, not to mention great shopping,” Nutter said. “Our goal is to encourage visitors and residents alike to look at what all of Philadelphia has to offer, beginning with these 14 vibrant neighborhoods surrounding Center City.”
The campaign encourages locals and visitors to explore the neighborhoods’ storied streets, buzzed-about restaurants, emerging art galleries, independent shops, intimate music venues, plentiful parks and annual festivals.
“This isn’t our first time promoting Philadelphia’s neighborhoods,” said Meryl Levitz, president and CEO, GPTMC. “Starting with our Neighborhood Tourism Network in the 1990s and including current campaigns such as Philly Te Ama, With Art Philadelphia and Philly 360°, GPTMC has been uncovering the creative energy happening all over the city for years. And we’re not finished yet.”
For more information about Philadelphia, visit visitphilly.com/neighborhoods where you can build itineraries; search event calendars; see photos and videos; view interactive maps; sign up for newsletters; listen to HearPhilly, an online radio station about what to see and do in the region; book hotel reservations and more. Or, call the Independence Visitor Center, located in Historic Philadelphia, at (800) 537-7676.