In 2014, Philadelphia saw a substantial uptick in the amount of time overseas travelers stayed in the city.

Specifically, these visitors who stayed overnight in the Philadelphia region, increased by 14.2 percent from 2013. Average visitor spend also increased by 10 percent, generating $578 million for the local economy.

The area attracted 620,000 overseas visitors last year, the majority of whom were leisure travelers. The most dramatic growth related to specific continents was Asia, was Asia with a 14.2 percent overall increase. Chinese increase 52 percent and Japanese increased 40 percent. The majority of overseas visitors came from the U.K.

“Outbound tourism from Asia to the U.S. is growing rapidly, especially from China. Despite Philadelphia being the largest market in the U.S. without direct air service from Asia Pacific, we experienced significant growth,” says Jack Ferguson, president and CEO, Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau. “In March this year, to capitalize on this growing market and increase our share, the PHLCVB opened an office in Beijing, in addition to appointing a new senior international tourism sales manager, initiatives which have all contributed to moving the needle in this very important market.” 

PHLCVB employs six representation firms that cover 10 markets, including the U.K., Ireland, Germany and India. In addition to the marketing and sales efforts, the CVB depends on global public relations outreach within those markets to grow awareness of Philadelphia. Last year, the CVB hosted 68 journalists from 11 countries to demonstrate the city’s assets.

Employees of the CVB travel to international tradeshows to share information about Philly. In 2014, the CVB attended 10 such tradeshows. With the World Meeting of Families and Papal visit taking place in the city this September, the CVB has been using these events to further promote the area. One million-plus visitors are expected, with a majority hailing from overseas.

The World Meeting of Families and the Papal visit are prime opportunities to showcase Philadelphia’s rich history, culture and diversity,” says Ferguson. “Our team at the PHLCVB has been using this occasion as a platform to engage international media and grow awareness of our city as a world-class tourism destination.”

The Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) has announced that Karen Dougherty Buchholz is the new chair of its board of directors. Currently serving as the executive vice president of administration for Comcast Corporation, which is headquartered in Philadelphia, Buchholz succeeds longtime PHLCVB chair Nicholas DeBenedictis, chairman emeritus of Aqua America.


Atlantic City

Last year was the highest grossing ever for the United States commercial gaming industry.* Meeting planners who hold gatherings at casinos may just feel like they’ve hit the jackpot, too. Casino-based events provide one-stop convenience—the amenities of convention centers and bountiful hotel rooms, plus activities, dining, and nightlife. 


Doreen Guerin grew up an Air Force brat, living in Texas, Louisiana, and later England and France. When she was 13, her parents moved to Queens and, Guerin says, “I’m a New Yorker through and through.” That’s apparent from her accent as well as her dedication to the Javits Center, where, as the senior vice president of sales and marketing, she oversees the booking and event-related operations for more than 170 events each year. 

M+E: What fueled your interest in working in the conventions industry?