It’s National Travel & Tourism Week, an annual opportunity for our industry to remind Americans how important travel is for our economy, our businesses and our personal well-being. In the Philadelphia region, we have an appealing destination that’s been developing and improving with outstanding museums, better stadiums, bountiful parks and public spaces, not-to-be-missed events, buzzed-about restaurants, redeveloped neighborhoods and brand new hotels eager to welcome the visitors and convention attendees coming to see and experience our always-improving region.
At the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau and VISIT PHILADELPHIA®, we work hard every day and with many city and regional partners to pump up Philadelphia’s image, get people to visit and boost our economy. Our efforts are paying off in a major way for our city, our region and our Commonwealth. In 2017, the last year visitation data is available, the five-county Philadelphia region hosted more than 44 million visitors—that’s the eighth consecutive year for record visitation. And in 2018, Center City hotels saw record occupancy (79.6%) for the fifth year in a row.
One of the things we’re most proud of is how many jobs—and careers, really—our industry supports. In our five-county region, there were 184,100 hospitality-related jobs—one-third of which were supported by visitors spending money here—in 2017. These industry jobs are at places you’d expect: the airport, hotels, sports arenas, the convention center, tour companies, museums, restaurants, bars, concert halls and shops. In addition, visitor spending supported another 36,000 jobs at places that support the work of our industry: printers, commercial laundry operations, marketing agencies, construction companies, union contractors, event-planning firms, food suppliers and hundreds of small businesses.
These jobs are good jobs. They pay decent wages. They offer opportunities for advancement. They’re accessible to people of all skill, experience and education levels. They support families. They help people buy homes—and send their kids to college. Many of these jobs are open now, and with more than a dozen new hotels rising in 2019 and 2020, many more jobs will be created soon.
According to the U.S Travel Association, nearly 40% of workers who begin their career in travel reach an annual career salary in excess of $100,000. So many people in Philadelphia have climbed through the ranks of our industry to build stable and even lucrative careers for themselves. We are two of those people, and many members of our staffs have done the same.
There’s Daouda, the front desk supervisor who has been working at the Westin Philadelphia for 8 years and Beverly, a housekeeper at Sofitel Philadelphia, for 19 years. Both exude pride, passion and dedication to their work and their industry.
And, of course, there are the hundreds of people who receive free hospitality job training each year through the Philadelphia Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC) and go on to build careers at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, hotels and restaurants.
Our industry doesn’t just put our family and neighbors to work, it provides jobs that offer stability, enhanced livelihoods and significant advancement opportunities. For that reason, we encourage residents, business owners and lawmakers to support our work. Invite someone to visit. Bring a meeting here. Prioritize policies that are pro-traveler. Because when you do, we all benefit.
The Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) is the official tourism promotion agency for the City of Philadelphia globally and the primary sales and marketing agency for the Pennsylvania Convention Center.