Controller: Combine Tourism Agencies Into One Department

Visit Philadelphia and PHLCVB duplicate services, he says.

Philadelphia has two agencies that entice outsiders to come spend money here: Visit Philadelphia appeals to tourists; the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau tries to bring in big groups and trade associaitions for their annual meetings.

Now, City Controller Alan Butkovitz says the two agencies should become one. Philadelphia Business Journal reports the move could save $1 million annually.

Butkovitz added:

“Both of these agencies are selling essentially the same product: Philadelphia,” Butkovitz said. “The savings, through combining resources and reducing overhead, could be re-deployed strategically to enhance promotion of historically weak segments such as international and business travel.”

The Controller’s study reviewed the operations and costs of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau and Visit Philadelphia, which both promote the City as a destination for business and leisure travel. The majority of funding for both organizations is derived from the City’s Hotel Tax, which in 2013 provided $12 million to the Convention and Visitors Bureau and $8 million to Visit Philadelphia.

Philadelphia is the only City among those studied for this report with two Destination Marketing Organizations of comparable size and budget. Several peer cities, such as New York City, Houston and Chicago, have consolidated their destination marketing into a single organization in recent years with improved results.

Butkovitz is believed to be preparing a run for mayor next year.

Read Butkovitz’s full report: