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An art scene that celebrates the street alongside the classics. A food landscape that cherishes tradition as much as innovation. A meld of intense neighborhood pride and thirst for new culture.
How do you explain what this city is really like — what makes it special, why it inspires such intense passion — to people who don’t live here?
With tourism expected to rebound to pre-pandemic levels by next year, and the spotlight coming to the birthplace of our nation as the country celebrates its 250th birthday, the city’s two destination marketing agencies are teaming up to try.
“Come for Philadelphia. Stay for Philly.” is the tagline to the new campaign rolled out Monday by Visit Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Some of the local icons featured in the first set of promos are old school.
The citywide special, for example, the shot-and-beer combo created at South Street dive Bob & Barbara’s in the 1990s that has since spread to bars and taverns in nearly every neighborhood and of nearly every style. It’s highlighted in a tagline that compares it to the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.
Others are newcomers that are quickly becoming part of the local canon.
Harriett’s Bookshop, the unique and unapologetic Fishtown bookstore founded in 2020 by Jeannine A. Cook and curated to celebrate Black American pride and educate about Black history, shares space on a promo with the American Revolution.
Other editions of the first promotional campaign feature Thai restaurant Kalaya (its tom yum soup is contrasted with a cheesesteak), the Rodin Museum (“The Thinker” is presented as an alternative to the Rocky statue), and the eclectic, art-focused South Street bar Tattooed Mom, contrasted with none other than the Founding Fathers.
It’s the first time the two tourism agencies — the first focuses on leisure and the second on business — have coordinated on a joint project.
The idea for the campaign, which teases that there’s more to Philly than outsiders may realize, is grounded in research showing that’s actually what people discover when they come. According to Visit Philadelphia: 79% of leisure visitors and 70% of meetings and conventions travelers who visit the city end up returning, which is 27% more than the national average.
Tourism boosters in Philly believe it will continue to be a rising destination despite a potential economic downturn. It’s a relatively inexpensive option compared to other East Coast megalopolis cities.
Occupancy in Center City Hotels last year was 56%, which is up 38% from the previous year. Projections from industry analyst Tourism Economics say hotel revenue will surpass 2019 levels by the end of this year.
The recent success of the city’s pro teams, from the Phillies World Series appearance to the Eagles Super Bowl run, has greatly helped the cause — one promo in the new campaign calls Philadelphia the “sports capital of the universe,” bolstered by the fact that the MLB All-Star Game and FIFA World Cup land here in 2026.
The nation’s semiquincentennial celebration is expected to bring a huge influx of tourism, with the World Cup alone projected to generate $460 million in economic impact.
This story has been updated to clarify that 70% of meetings and conventions travelers have been found to return, vs. business travelers overall, and that hotel revenue is what’s expected to surpass 2019 levels, not necessarily occupancy.