Philadelphia was the first ever US host city for the 2018 Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) Annual Conference.
Traditionally the conference has been held exclusively in Europe, but increased airlift from Europe to Philadelphia International Airport and the targeted international strategy of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau’s (PHLCVB) Global Tourism team, helped the city get selected as the destination for the international conference which closed on 1 December.
ITAA represents Ireland’s travel agents and tour operators, bringing together over 100-member companies covering 140 branches throughout the Republic of Ireland.
Delegates experienced some of the attractions of America’s first World Heritage City while participating in industry and educational events organised by the Global Tourism department at the PHLCVB with support from the Pennsylvania Convention Center and Philadelphia International Airport.
In March 2018, Aer Lingus began non-stop service between Philadelphia and Dublin Airport (DUB), and offering pre-clearance for US Customs and Immigration with low border wait times.
Additionally, American Airlines operates daily service from Dublin and seasonal service (April-September) from Shannon Airport to Philadelphia.
“Ireland is in the top 10 largest overseas markets for Philadelphia. And in 2017 alone, our city welcomed 14,300 visitors from the region,” said PHLCVB President and CEO Julie Coker Graham. “We are honoured that ITAA chose Philadelphia as the first US location of its annual conference.”
In 2017, Philadelphia welcomed 648,000 overseas visitors, up slightly from 2016, and an increase of 9% over the last five years. According to data released earlier this year from Tourism Economics, direct spending by overseas visitors also increased by 7.2% year-over-year (YoY), totalling US$651m. The estimated economic impact generated through overseas visitation to the greater Philadelphia region has climbed to $1.1bn.
“Expanding airlift to Philadelphia is our top priority,” said PHL International Airport CEO Chellie Cameron. “Over the past few years, our team has worked to recruit international carriers like Aer Lingus and Icelandair.”
Photo (L to R): Pat Dawson (ITAA CEO); Chris Thompson (Brand USA President); Sheila Hess (City of Philadelphia Representative); John Spollen (ITAA President); Julie Coker Graham (PHLCVB President and CEO); John McNichol (Pennsylvania Convention Center President and CEO).