By Matt Petrillo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Delaware Valley is hoping to build back tourism in 2021 after taking a big hit last year because of the pandemic. Tourism officials in Philadelphia say many attractions are working to make a big comeback.

Parts of Independence National Historical Park, like the Liberty Bell and Congress Hall, reopened Monday. Victoria Valentine is visiting from Utah.

“We’re very happy to know that everything was gonna be open for us,” Valentine said.

Attractions like museums were closed in Philly for several weeks because of COVID restrictions. But now people are being welcomed back.

Matt Fink and his fiancé planned a day trip here from Marlton, Burlington County.

“We’re gonna check out Independence Hall and walk around and maybe grab a cheesesteak,” Fink said.

The tourism agency Visit Philadelphia says visitation to our region was down by as much as 40% in 2020. But it’s hoping for a big comeback.

“The quickest thing that people can do to be a part of our region’s recovery is to be a tourist in your own hometown,” said Jeff Guaracino with Visit Philadelphia.

There is a lot to look forward to this year in the Delaware Valley. Four new hotels are expected to open in Philadelphia, like Element by Westin and The W, both in Center City.

“We’ve got a wonderful rooftop pool that’s heated for year-round use, also features cabanas and a fire pit,” said W Hotel Philadelphia General Manager Ed Baten.

Visit Philadelphia also launched a new initiative that highlights more than 130 Black- and Brown-owned businesses, like Star Fusion Express in West Philadelphia.

“I’m so grateful for them doing something like this. A lot of times restaurants in our community don’t get a lot of attention,” said Darlene Jones with Star Fusion Express.

Star Fusion Express opened in June, during the pandemic, but says visitors from many parts of the country have since visited.


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