So, the weekend of the pope’s visit was a success in many ways – people connected with one another in car-free streets, babies were kissed, pilgrims got up close and personal with His Holiness – but something of a bummer from a business standpoint. Leading up to the papal weekend, city officials filled the ears of local business owners with big predictions as to how commerce would be booming. In actuality, that didn’t really happen. The pope’s weekend was something of a bust for businesses, but local hospitality and tourism experts say that the weekend can still be used as a jumping-off point for future success.
A hospitality and tourism industry panel was held at Temple University Tuesday morning, and it featured representatives from the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau, or PHLCVB. Representative Jack Ferguson said that the success of the pope’s visit should continue to be felt in coming months, as businesses look at Philadelphia with new eyes when it comes to potential travel. Customers, too, had a positive taste of the City of Brotherly Love. All told, the return business could prove a boon for local industry.
Brian Said, another representative, said that the pope’s visit would catapult Philadelphia into the rank of cities like New York and Washington, D.C. which are constantly in the news thanks to visits from high-ranking figures. Said did opine, however, that it wasn’t enough for the city to maintain facilities (like the Philadelphia Convention Center) where big events can be held – it needs to market itself as well. City businesses should “brag” about what Philadelphia has to offer, he said. It’s all about getting the message out to visitors and locals alike that Philadelphia is a great place to come and visit – and, in that way, the word will spread across the nation.