The Most People Ever Visited Philadelphia In 2015

The city, which drew 41 million visitors in 2015 mostly for leisure, braces for more with the DNC and beyond.

Philadelphia Skyline | R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Skyline | R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia.

Visit Philadelphia released Philadelphia’s tourism statistics today, and the numbers are record-breaking: 41 million people visited our city last year, up from 39 million in 2014.

But to some extent, the results are unsurprising — this marks the sixth year in a row that Philadelphia has broken the previous year’s tourism record. And with the city playing host to marquee events like the papal visit in 2015 and the Democratic National Convention this year, why should we be surprised? Philly’s a city on the rise. (The New York Times shouted us out in its “36 hours” series in May).

And while Philly rises, its economic fortunes do, too. According to Visit Philadelphia, visitors to the city generated $10.7 billion in economic impact, or, put another way, $29 million every single day. 

Meryl Levitz, President and CEO of Visit Philadelphia, wasn’t surprised in the slightest to see such positive growth. “Every year, Philadelphia becomes a better and better destination,” she said in an interview with Philadelphia magazine. “Success breeds success.”

Without hesitation, Levitz also mentioned that Pope Francis’ recent visit did not inflate Philadelphia’s tourism statistics, claiming the pope only made up for what was a soft year in the convention and business markets. “It wasn’t a net gain as you might have expected,” Levitz said.

The Democratic National Convention in July certainly bodes well for Philadelphia tourism. And the city is no stranger to the economic boon that is a presidential convention. In 2000, the Republicans converged upon the First Union Center (now the Wells Fargo Center) for four days, producing over $345 million in total sales and a direct economic impact of $170 million.

This summer’s convention looks to be no less lucrative, with roughly 50,000 visitors expected and a projected economic impact of $350 million.

Levitz noted that while some people believe Republican conventions spend more than Democratic conventions, she is confident Philadelphia’s DNC can hold its own. At the very least, she expects it to beat the measly numbers from the 2012 DNC in Charlotte, North Carolina, which brought in $163.6 million.

Though the Democratic National Convention will leave Philly after four days at the end of July, Levitz anticipates the spotlight will stay on the city for years to come. There may be no massive events on the scale of papal visits or political conventions scheduled for 2017, but Levitz believes the city will only continue to rise. Her prediction for 2017?

“The big marquee event will be Philadelphia itself.”