Philadelphia airport sees more world visitors

PHILADELPHIA - December 29, 2009

A large part of that growth is attributed to direct flights from London, which is one of the biggest feeder markets into Philadelphia.

"Thought it would be a nice place to come, see some old American history," said James Marpels from Mann, England.

While official international visitor figures won't be out until the spring, the number of international visitors is expected to reach nearly 700,000. That is actually down from the record-breaking draw in 2008.

Philadelphia's renowned inventory of historical sites remain the top draw, but the new and improved airport has injected a real boost into international tourism here. New direct flights to and from European and Middle-Eastern capitals have lured more people, keeping Philadelphia's numbers strong. Meanwhile, cuts in daily overseas flights in cities like New York, Boston and Chicago have taken a toll on the international tourism in those big towns.

"Huge fan of the sports and American football. I'm a huge fan of the Philadelphia Eagles," said Celar Giraldo from Bogota, Colombia.

Blockbuster exhibits at the art museum are getting Philadelphia's name out there on the world stage. The Barnes Treasures will soon be on the Parkway, Philadelphia advertises big time now in New York and Washington, and partnerships with Amtrak and bus operators in New York City continues to help register gains.

As the world wide recession recedes, the cheerleaders are forecasting boom times ahead for international tourism here.

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