Location: Philadelphia, PA
President and CEO
Visit Philadelphia is the region’s official tourism marketing agency. In 1996, research showed that Philadelphia was a business destination, not a place where someone would come for a leisure visit. Then-Mayor Ed Rendell, then-Governor Tom Ridge and Rebecca Rimel, president and CEO of The Pew Charitable Trusts, knew that creating a marketing corporation dedicated to building the Philadelphia area into a well-branded leisure destination would be an economic driver to replace lost manufacturing jobs, stimulate other business and inspire local pride.
Fun Fact: “Early in my career here, men used to tease me that you could not get a job in my office if you were a man because I felt a special responsibility to mentor women.”
“Since we began marketing Philadelphia as a leisure destination, leisure hotel room nights in Center City alone have increased 287 percent,” says Meryl Levitz, president and
CEO of Visit Philadelphia. “Leisure now makes up nearly a third of the hotel room nights.”
After 9/11, then-Mayor John Street asked Visit Philadelphia to design a recovery program that would encourage people to resume traveling. The organization launched the Philly’s More Fun When You Sleep Over campaign, which played a major role in Philadelphia’s hospitality recovery following the attacks.