Philadelphia Hosts Record Number of Overseas Travelers

Thanks to aggressive overseas marketing by the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau and new partnerships with Amtrak and bus operators in New York, Philadelphia welcomed a record number of international travelers in 2008, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported last week, citing new data from the U.S. Commerce Department.

According to the Commerce Department's Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, Philadelphia hosted 710,000 international visitors in 2008, an increase of more than 150,000—or 29 percent—from the previous year, making Philadelphia the fastest growing U.S. destination for overseas travelers and the 11th most popular, up from 12th in 2007.

"It's been a strong year for international tourism," Mark Beyerle, president of charter bus company Specialty Tours & Events, told the Inquirer. "There's been no negative impact as a result of the economy. In particular, conventions with a major international appeal have been drawing strong."

Overall, international visits to the United States were down approximately 9 percent this year through August, according to the Commerce Department, which will release final 2009 international travel data in May. As of August, it said only Philadelphia and Las Vegas were on track to having either the same or more international travelers in 2009 than in 2008.