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Philadelphia Forms Task Force To Find Ways To Boost Tourism

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Matt-Rivers-web-headshot Matt Rivers
Matt Rivers joined CBS 3 and The CW Philly’s Eyewitness News team ...
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By Matt Rivers

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Asian American Hotel Owners Association is big.  AAHOA members own four out of every 10 hotels nationwide. So, when they all get together this week in Philadelphia, they bring a lot of people with them.

“The economic impact is probably over $7 million to the city itself.”

Conventions like those are crucial to the city’s bottom line, but there’s a problem.

Jim Kenney says, “I am extremely worried that people’s jobs may be in jeopardy as a result of there not being enough visitors and conventioners coming to the city.”

The city has booked over 325,000 hotel rooms booked this year from conventions. In 2016, that drops to about 240,000. Officials blame increased competition from other cities, less convention demand, and high union labor costs for the dip.

The result is less cash to local businesses.

Julie Coker Graham of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau says, “From the airport to the taxi cab driver, to the mom and pop restaurants, to the housekeeper.”

And beyond the initial loss, no conventions now mean further loss later.

For tourism officials, the people that will fill the convention center over the next four days or so represent future opportunity as well.  If they like what they see in Philadelphia this time, hopefully they’ll come back on their own and bring their wallets.”

Meryl Levitz of Visit Philly says,”So that leisure visitor becomes a convention attendee just like that convention attendee becomes a leisure visitor.”

A city task force will tackle the problem and hopefully issue solutions in the next year.

Back at the convention center, AAHOA isn’t sure they’ll come back in a few years because labor costs are too high.

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