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Philly hotels seeing record occupancy numbers in 2012

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The Philadelphia hospitality sector is having a big year – a really, really big year.  During the first six months of 2012, Center City hotels reveled in a state of 75% occupancy – the highest clip of any year dating back to 2000 when data became available.  And with new hotels opening up seemingly every few months, additional arrivals in the pipeline and record daily rates being met, outside investors are taking a second look at the City of Brotherly Love, something local boosters welcome with open arms. 

A number of factors are contributing to Philly’s record numbers, all of which seem to have serendipitously come together at once.  “Philadelphia is an overnight sensation,” explains Meryl Levitz, president & CEO, Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC), who believes a lot of public and private investment in the leisure and hospitality market are finally paying off.  “People began believing in hospitality as they saw its effects. Now we have partnerships with universities, law firms and other corporations who see it as an advantage to promote Philadelphia to their audiences.”

Since then, Philadelphia has been reaping the benefits, seeing record visitation (38 million domestic visitors in 2011), increased marketing efforts nationally and internationally, and better restaurants, museums, attractions and activity. 

The cause-and-effect relationship at work here is simple, explains Levitz.  “With more attractions, more marketing and more conventions comes more hotels -- and they bring national advertising and national reservation systems. The same holds true with airlines.  Virgin America and Alaska Airlines are the latest to start bringing business into PHL.” 

To keep with momentum, Center City hotels have, at once, all seemed to improve themselves as well.  Notable examples of this include the landmark Latham Hotel which reopened after a total renovation of all 139 guestrooms and lobby, the rebranding of the Crowne Plaza into the Sonesta Hotel Philadelphia, and the Sheraton Society Hill Hotel’s full overhaul, all completed within the past few months.

What does this all mean in terms of economic development for Center City and the region?  According to Levitz, there are billions of answers to this question.  “In 2011, the Greater Philadelphia tourism industry generated $9.34 billion in economic impact, an increase of 7.5% from 2010,” adds Levitz “this equates to visitors generating an economic impact of $26 million a day.”   Plus, all of this spending supports 86,498 jobs, with a total paycheck of $2.85 billion.  

That’s big numbers for Philly and GPTMC, who hopes to keep the hospitality market humming.  Levitz believes to do so is imperative for a higher quality of life in Philly.  “The success of the hospitality market touches so many aspects of life that residents care about—culture, transportation, dining.  It boosts the intangibles, like the city’s image, and optimism about the future.”

With the addition of the boutique Hotel Monaco Philadelphia in October and Home2 Suites Philadelphia next year, it seems the future has never looked better.   

Source: Meryl Levitz, GPTMC
Writer: Greg Meckstroth
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