Philadelphia and the Countryside - Press Room

Releases: Expanded View

Sep 12 2016

Fact Sheet: VISIT PHILADELPHIA's 20-Year Timeline (1996-2016)

Twenty Years of Greater Philadelphia's Tourism Marketing Corporation


Started as a three-year experiment by the City of Philadelphia, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and The Pew Charitable Trusts, VISIT PHILADELPHIA® (then the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation) is founded to market the five-county region as a leisure destination. An op-ed published in The Philadelphia Inquirer calls on the destination-marketing organization to fulfill the “Golden Promise” of a successful and economically vital travel and tourism industry in Philadelphia.


VISIT PHILADELPHIA advertises Philly on national TV for the first time in the city’s history. The advertising campaign This Is My Philadelphia positions the region as The Place That Loves You Back, a tagline people still use today.


Joining the ranks of the few forward-thinking destinations on the web, VISIT PHILADELPHIA debuts (now, Greater Philadelphia’s first and only official visitor website.


Philadelphia can count on a growing leisure travel segment. Lawmakers pass a 1% hotel tax increase—championed by Philadelphia hotels—to establish permanent funding for VISIT PHILADELPHIA’s tourism-marketing efforts.


Pajamas and slippers become iconic symbols when VISIT PHILADELPHIA launches Philly’s More Fun When You Sleep Over® and the Philly Overnight® Hotel Package, contributing to “the most successful hospitality recovery in the country” after the 9/11 attacks, according to Smith Travel Research. During a time of uncertainty, the simple message—it’s fun, so sleep over—resonates.


The Philadelphia region welcomes 30 million visitors for the first time. (Tourism Economics, Longwoods International)


Philadelphia becomes the first destination in the world to launch a LGBT-themed television commercial, part of VISIT PHILADELPHIA’s Philadelphia – Get Your History Straight and Your Nightlife Gay® campaign.


National Geographic Traveler declares Philadelphia the “Next Great City” in October. The whole region celebrates the tremendous honor, and residents exude pride for their once cast-aside city. (Although, many good-humoredly question the word “next,” insisting that Philadelphia is already a great place.)


Once again, VISIT PHILADELPHIA sees the beginnings of a trend and becomes an early adopter. Through its uwishunu® campaign, funded by then-Mayor John Street and Philadelphia City Council, in-the-know residents spread the word about Philly through a blog, Philadelphia is one of just a few destinations in the blogosphere, and the emerging insider phrase “social-media marketing” is already a main focus for VISIT PHILADELPHIA.

Hotel revenue in the five-county region reaches $1 billion for the first time. Increased visitation and the rising cost of hotel rooms contribute to this destination-defining milestone. (Smith Travel Research)


The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania enables the City of Philadelphia to institute a 1.2% increase in the Philadelphia County hotel room occupancy tax, which is shared among VISIT PHILADELPHIA, the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority.


Proving that travelers choose value over discounts, VISIT PHILADELPHIA sells the 100,000th Philly Overnight Hotel Package, representing 200,000 room nights and $20 million in hotel revenue, plus another $48 million in spending on food, retail, recreation and transportation. (PKF Consulting, Tourism Economics)

VISIT PHILADELPHIA launches With Love, Philadelphia XOXO®. In a time of economic uncertainty, people respond positively to the inviting and playful tone of Philadelphia’s love letters.


The City of Philadelphia, VISIT PHILADELPHIA and a group of civic and cultural partners launch With Art Philadelphia®, the city’s first-ever coordinated and sustained visual arts marketing campaign.


After years of planning—and years of people asking for it—VISIT PHILADELPHIA begins its advertising program to give partners more visibility on the valuable trip-planning website.


VISIT PHILADELPHIA launches an evolution of the popular With Love, Philadelphia XOXO campaign. Phillyosophy® uses Philadelphia’s familiar voice, spirit and attitude while reflecting the region’s new confidence.


Philadelphia takes #3 on the coveted New York Times’ “52 Places to Visit in 2015” list.

From June to September, #visitphilly Photo Spots give locals and visitors even more reasons to snap and share photos of the city. Structures around town include giant XOXOs and With Love chairs. Even after the summer season, some of the Photo Spots remain in place because of their popularity.

Total domestic visitation to Greater Philadelphia reaches a record 41 million, 88% of whom are leisure visitors. (Econsult Solutions, Inc.) Since VISIT PHILADELPHIA starting marketing, Center City Philadelphia has seen a 287% increase in leisure hotel room nights, while the five-county Philadelphia region has had a 90% increase in overnight leisure visitation. (CBRE Hotels)


In two years, VISIT PHILADELPHIA promotes and plays a role in major news for the city: World Meeting of Families and Pope Francis’ visit (September 2015), Philadelphia’s designation as the country’s first World Heritage City (November 2015) and the Democratic National Convention (July 2016).


Started in earnest in 2007, VISIT PHILADELPHIA’s award-winning social media program hits one million fans and followers.

People get a fun way to share their Philly love and pride with the Philadelphia Keyboard. VISIT PHILADELPHIA launches the messaging app with 60 emojis, including a LOVE statue, XOXO and winking Liberty Bell.

VISIT PHILADELPHIA works with the writers of two destination-defining media hits. In February, Philadelphia takes the top spot on Lonely Planet’s “Best in the U.S.” list, and in April, The New York Times’ “36 Hours in Philadelphia” highlights the city’s vegan restaurants, BYOB culture and bike-share program, Indego.

VISIT PHILADELPHIA airs the Philazillas TV commercial—its first in five years—with the line “There’s more to a legendary city than its legends.” A larger-than-life Ben Franklin battles with a giant cheesesteak while locals and visitors enjoy the other, lesser-known sides of Philadelphia: museums, dining, parks and urban life.

In its 20th year, VISIT PHILADELPHIA continues its history of forward thinking with its new Entrepreneur in Residence program, a first-of-its-kind initiative for a destination-marketing organization. is the most visited city-DMO website in the country, ranking above major destinations such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. (SimilarWeb 2016 Traffic Data)

At the U.S. Travel Association’s Educational Seminar for Tourism Organizations (ESTO), VISIT PHILADELPHIA earns a Destiny Award—the organization’s 76th industry award—for Branding and Integrated Marketing Campaign with its With Love, Philadelphia XOXO campaign.


VISIT PHILADELPHIA® is our name and our mission. As the region’s official tourism marketing agency, we build Greater Philadelphia’s image, drive visitation and boost the economy.

On Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, and, visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages. Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with Visit Philly social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers. Travelers can also call and stop into the Independence Visitor Center for additional information and tickets.

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Related Releases

May 3 2017

VISIT PHILADELPHIA Marks National Travel & Tourism Week

New Video Welcomes All People To Visit With Love

To celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW), taking place from May 7-13, 2017, VISIT PHILADELPHIA® today released a video highlighting the people who welcome visitors to Philadelphia every day. Entitled the “Faces of Travel,” the video supports the U.S. Travel Association’s NTTW 2017 theme and invites travelers to Philadelphia. It echoes VISIT PHILADELPHIA’s 20-year tradition of extending inviting and love-filled messages to potential visitors. The video is viewable on YouTube.

“Philadelphia is the City—and region—of Brotherly Love, and our campaigns have long had a welcoming message of love and inclusion to reflect that,” said Meryl Levitz, president

Mar 17 2017

The Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package Springs Into A New Season

Indeg & PHLASH Bus Passes Return To The Popular Package That Always Includes Free Hotel Parking

This spring, the popular Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package includes not only its always-offered-and-convenient free hotel parking, but extra perks that make it easier for visitors to get around once they arrive too. Bookable now at for stays beginning on March 20, 2017, the spring edition of the package comes with free passes for Indego, the City of Philadelphia’s bike-sharing program; free tickets for the PHLASH downtown loop, which stops at more than 20 Philly attractions; credit toward an Uber ride and $50 in SugarHouse Casino perks.

“There’s nothing quite like spring in Philadelphia,” said Meryl Levitz, president and

Mar 10 2017

VISIT PHILADELPHIA Debuts 360-Degree Photo, Video & Virtual Reality Experience

New Digital Content Showcases Philadelphia Before Visitors Arrive

Philadelphia fans and potential visitors can now see the city in a new way before they arrive thanks to VISIT PHILADELPHIA’s 360-degree photography and video with virtual-reality capabilities. Visitors to will be able to explore 25 panoramic, 360-degree photos; watch a three-minute, 360-degree video; and view that video in virtual reality (VR)—as an immersive tour on a VR headset.

“Every day we give online visitors compelling reasons to plan a trip to Philadelphia, and we believe this new view of the city will give the 20 million people who use and each year even more reasons to

Feb 15 2017

Visit Philadelphia Announces Three New Staff Appointments

New Hires & A Promotion Focus On Strategic Alliances, Hotel Relations & Visitor Appeal

VISIT PHILADELPHIA® welcomed two new staffers and promoted another within the organization this month, adding Kara Callahan as vice president of advertising and strategic alliances, Laura Burkhardt as vice president of visitor appeal, and elevating Jim Werner to vice president of hotel relations and tourism development.

“We’re happy to welcome Kara and Laura and to promote Jim, a long-time member of our team,” said Meryl Levitz, president and CEO of VISIT PHILADELPHIA. “We’re coming off a banner year for hospitality in 2016, and the new leadership positions will strengthen our talented team by helping us to fulfill our mission,

Jan 19 2017

Kimpton Hotel Manager Joins VISIT PHILADELPHIA Team

James Adamson Is The Most Recent Addition To The Company's Board Of Directors

VISIT PHILADELPHIA® announced today that it has welcomed James Adamson, general manager of the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Philadelphia, to its board.

“We are happy that James has joined our board,” said Manuel Stamatakis, VISIT PHILADELPHIA board chairman. “He has many years of hotel management experience, and we look forward to tapping into his knowledge base as we develop marketing plans and strategies for VISIT PHILADELPHIA moving forward.”

For 14 years now, Adamson has worked for Kimpton properties, beginning in 2003 when he served as a guest service agent at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco in Salt Lake City. He quickly

Jan 17 2017

VISIT PHILADELPHIA Reports A Record For 2016 Leisure Tourism & Announces Plans For 2017

Philadelphia's Tourism Marketing Group's Success In 2016 And Stories For 2017

At today’s VISIT PHILADELPHIA® New Year’s Breakfast, the destination marketing organization released record 2016 hotel numbers for Center City Philadelphia and announced upcoming marketing initiatives, including a new virtual-reality and 360-degree video and photo experience on; new With Love, Philadelphia XOXO® ads for winter; year two for Philadelphia’s Historic District campaign; and a perks-packed, limited-time-only Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package.

2016: A Record Year:
In 2016, Center City Philadelphia hotels are projected to have hit:

  • Record occupancy – 78%
    –3.2 million hotel room nights
  • Record leisure room nights – 1 million for the first time
Jan 11 2017

Biggest, Best-Ever Version Of The Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package Now Available

Package Includes Philadelphia Auto Show Tickets For Limited Time Only

VISIT PHILADELPHIA® announces a new perk for the in-demand Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package Winter Getaway. Guests who book the package and stay at any of 38 Philadelphia hotels between January 28 and February 5, 2017 receive the bonuses listed below—plus two tickets to the Philadelphia Auto Show. This package, typically valued up to $228, jumps up to a $256 value with the Auto Show tickets. The standard winter package, available until March 19, 2017, includes:

  • Free hotel parking
  • Two untimed tickets to Jurassic World: The Exhibition at The Franklin Institute
  • Admission and ice skate rentals for two at
Nov 3 2016

Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package Winter Getaway

This Season’s Package Is Bigger, Better & Perkier Than Ever

VISIT PHILADELPHIA®, the region’s official tourism marketing agency, announced an unprecedented version of its Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package for winter. Redeemable from November 25, 2016 through March 19, 2017, the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package Winter Getaway is bookable online now at and starts at $99 per night. The package, offered at 38 Center City hotels, is valued at up to $228 and includes:

  • Free hotel parking
  • Two untimed tickets to Jurassic World: The Exhibition, making its North American debut at The Franklin Institute
  • Admission and ice skate rentals for two at Blue Cross RiverRink
Oct 18 2016

SugarHouse General Manager Joins Visit Philadelphia Team

Philadelphia Native Wendy Hamilton Is The Most Recent Addition To The Board Of Directors

VISIT PHILADELPHIA® announced today that it has welcomed Wendy Hamilton, general manager of SugarHouse Casino, to its board.

“We’re pleased to have Wendy join our board,” said Manuel Stamatakis, VISIT PHILADELPHIA board chairman. “She has more than 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry, and her enthusiasm for and dedication to Philadelphia will serve us all well as VISIT PHILADELPHIA plans and strategizes for the future.”

Hamilton has managed SugarHouse since it opened in 2010 and, in that time, has led partnerships with major Philadelphia events, such as the New Year’s Eve Fireworks on the Delaware River Waterfront

Oct 11 2016

VISIT PHILADELPHIA Announces Director Of Social Media, Dana Schmidt

Schmidt To Further Mission To Grow Fan Base

Dana Schmidt is the director of social media at VISIT PHILADELPHIA®, the region’s official tourism marketing agency.

Schmidt is responsible for continuing to grow the brand’s social media fan base beyond 1.2 million followers (and counting). As the director of social media for VISIT PHILADELPHIA, she leads the organization’s award-winning social media program by curating compelling content and using innovative tactics to keep fans and followers engaged.

Schmidt, who joined VISIT PHILADELPHIA in March 2016, chartered a new way to engage mobile-savvy travelers and locals with an account on the latest image- and video-based storytelling social media platform,