Philadelphia tourism takes a hit due to COVID-19, but optimism remains for later this summer

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The tourism landscape in Philadelphia during Memorial Day weekend was a stark contrast to life before COVID-19.

Philadelphia is a destination for people across the world, specifically when it comes to the historic sites.

Last year, Independence Mall saw about $50,000 people on a holiday weekend. Instead, this year, people enjoyed the lawn at a social distance.

One family was in town from Staten Island, New York for a change of scenery.

"We assumed it would be closed, but it's nice to see the view, the nice buildings to walk around," said Marina Samuel, who traveled with her extended family.

"It's really nice we were excited when we got out of the car," said Essa Samuel.

Jeff Guaracino, the CEO of Visit Philly, said tourist attractions remain closed during the city's stay-at-home order.

Last year, hotels were nearly 90% full on Memorial Day weekend.

Guaracino says with Philadelphia already an established desired destination, he is optimistic that some time later this summer they could see tourists visiting the sites with safety measures in place.

"Right now, we see there is pent up leisure demand. People want to go and have a get away, celebrate those life moments and get away to reconnect with people. So, we do expect a bounce back but it will take a little bit of time," he said.

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