Philadelphia Sets Modern-Day Record with Overseas Visitation

September 24, 2019

Nearly 700,000 overseas visitors came to Philadelphia in 2018, generating $1.2 billion in economic impact.

The numbers reflect a 7.5% year-over-year growth, marking the fourth consecutive year of growth in overseas visitation. Nine of Philadelphia’s top ten overseas markets had year-over-year growth and overseas visitors to Philadelphia generated $723 million dollars in direct spending in 2018, achieving a modern-day record.

The United Kingdom remains at the top of the list of markets with the highest number of overseas visitors to Philadelphia and China led all markets with $136 million in overall visitor spending. Philadelphia has seen renewed strength from Germany, India, Italy, Spain, and sustained increases from South Korea and the Netherlands, showcasing the city’s appeal in a variety of diverse markets. Overseas visitation to Philadelphia is expected to grow 13.4% over the next five years.

Top 10 Philadelphia Overseas Markets

1. United Kingdom

2. China

3. Germany

4. India

5. France

6. South Korea

7. Italy

8. Ireland

9. Spain

10. The Netherlands

More flights, more visitors

Photo courtesy of Philadelphia International Airport.

Increased demand for leisure and business travel to Philadelphia resulted in new direct flight routes. Philadelphia International Airport added three new international routes in 2018 from Zurich, Budapest and Prague, contributing to the 4.2 million international passengers that touched down at the airport throughout the year, a 6% increase from 2017. Ireland saw dramatic gains as additional airline service from American Airlines and Aer Lingus helped boost travel to Philadelphia by 42%.

Overseas visitation is expected to grow 13.4% over the next five years as Philadelphia International Airport added new non-stop service from several European destinations including Edinburgh, Berlin and Dubrovnik in 2019. Philadelphia offers the only non-stop flight in North America to Dubrovnik. In summer 2020, American Airlines will be the only U.S. carrier with service to Morocco and Northern Africa.

More visitors, more direct dollars infused into Philadelphia’s economy

Joan Shepp photo courtesy of the PHLCVB.

In addition to touring the historic and iconic landmarks of the first World Heritage City in the United States, the most popular leisure enticements in Philadelphia that overseas visitors enjoy are shopping (clothing and shoes are tax-free in Philadelphia), the city’s incredible art museums – including the world’s largest outdoor gallery of public art – and the flourishing, hip, chef-driven restaurant scene.

Time Out recently ranked Philadelphia number 16 out of the 48 Best Cities in the World in 2019. GQ named the City of Brotherly Love the 2018 City of the Year and Travel + Leisure called Philadelphia the Best Food City on the East Coast. Philadelphia favorite, Zahav, recently won the James Beard Award for Best Restaurant 2019.

Worldwide storytelling

The PHLCVB booth at the ITB China, one of China's fastest growing travel trade shows. Photo courtesy of PHLCVB.

In Philadelphia, overseas travelers account for 57% of all international visitation and 79% of all international visitor spending, an increase over 2017. The boost is a result of the work of the PHLCVB team to promote Philadelphia as a premier U.S. destination by participating in sales missions and trade shows across the world, hosting travel trade professionals and journalists from key markets in Philadelphia, and leveraging seven representation offices around the world with reach across 23 global markets.

Read more about the 2018 overseas visitation results and the modern-day record of $723 million in direct visitor spending that generated $1.2 billion in economic impact in Philadelphia in the PHLCVB Overseas All Markets Snapshot and by individual markets: Australia, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Scandinavia and Finland, South Korea, and United Kingdom. More information also available in the PHLCVB Media Room.

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