Image: Philadelphia buildings
Matt Rourke  /  AP file
Despite a multimillion-dollar ad campaign focusing on history, nightlife and culture, Americans’ perceptions of Philadelphia is still shaped by the “Rocky” movies, “Invincible,” cheesesteaks and rowdy sports fans.
updated 11/1/2007 6:35:26 PM ET 2007-11-01T22:35:26

Philadelphia's image as a gritty, industrial city, solidified in the "Rocky" films, remains intact in many parts of the country, despite efforts by tourism officials to change perceptions, according to a report released Thursday.

The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp. has a multimillion-dollar ad campaign touting Philadelphia's history, nightlife and cultural events. People living in cities that don't directly see the ads continue to harbor images that center around cheesesteaks and rowdy sports fans, according to the tourism group's report.

The blue-collar image is understandable "if all you knew were movies like 'Rocky' and 'Invincible' where people are getting beat up, or 'Sixth Sense' where you see a bunch of creepy people," said Meryl Levitz, the group's president and chief executive. "That's an image that's hard to shake."

But the group, funded by the government and private donors, is trying. It is spending over $12 million this year in advertising, marketing and promotions, more than four times what it spent a decade ago.

There are signs of success: A record $10.4 billion in direct and indirect spending by visitors to Philadelphia and its four suburban Pennsylvania counties last year, the report said. That's up 3.6 percent from 2005 and up 8 percent from 2004.

The number of domestic leisure visitors staying overnight also reached an all-time high of 9.3 million.

Overnight hotel visitors — measured on a per-visiting-group basis — spent an average of $932 last winter, up 7 percent from the previous winter. Visitors with incomes of over $150,000 spent the most — an average of $923 per group.

Downtown Philadelphia had 216 fine dining restaurants in 2006, up 4 percent from 2005 but up an astounding 232 percent from 1992. The hotel occupancy rate was 73.6 percent in Center City, compared with a national average of 63.4 percent. The average daily rate for downtown hotels was $156.34.

Demand for downtown hotels is expected to stay the same or increase for most visitors until 2011.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: Gotta Love Philly

loading photos...
  1. A gangster's palace

    The preserved prison cell of America's best known gangster, Al Capone at Eastern State Penitentiary. A leading symbol of illegal activities in Chicago during the Porhibition Era, Capone spent eight months on a weapons charge 1929. Eastern State Penitentiary, now a museum, was built in 1829 and closed in 1971. (Jacqueline Larma / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Living history

    Cyndi Janzen displays the United Stats Flag as she plays the part of Betsy Ross at the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia. (Matt Rourke / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Paving the way

    Visitors admire a Porsche 917, left, on display in the "pit road" section at the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia. (Tom Mihalek / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Getting a feel for the city

    A life-sized replica of the Statue of Liberty's Arm & Torch, a sculpture built of toys and found objects by Philadelphia artist Leo Sewell, greets visitors in the Please Touch Museum's Great Hall. (Michael Branscom / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Tourist magnet

    Visitors view the high-definition LED screen in the main lobby of the Comcast Center in Philadelphia. This city best known to tourists for its historical sites and museums has a surprise new high-tech hit that began to develop into a must-see attraction in 2008. (Justin Maxon / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Freedom rings

    Visitors listen to a Park Service guide's presentation about the Liberty Bell - an international icon of freedom. ) (Tom Mihalek / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. A walk of art

    Andrew Wyeth's 1951 painting 'Trodden Weed,' displayed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, one of the largest museums in the United States. (Matt Rourke / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Benjamin in Philly

    Philadelphia's bronze sculpture, titled Benjamin Franklin Craftsman. The statue shows a young Franklin in the process of printing on a hand press. The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania commissioned the work and presented it to the City on June 24, 1981. (Joseph Kaczmarek / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. A walk in the heart

    Schoolchildren stand in line next to a giant two-story papier mache-on-metal heart as they wait to walk through the Philadelphia icon at the Franklin Institute. The giant heart is one of the Philadelphia area's best-known icons, and a rite of passage for school groups across the region. (Jacqueline Larma / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Nation's birthplace

    Independence National Historical Park where the Liberty Bell, an international symbol of freedom is hung. The park's World Heritage Site, includes Independence Hall, where both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were created. (MPI via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Musical magic

    The cello-shaped 2,500-seat auditorium of the Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. It was the first major concert hall to open in the 21st Century, and is one of the world's best performance venues. (Coke Whitworth / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Eagle eye

    Lincoln Financial Field, front, home stadium of the National Football League's Philadelphia Eagles. Other sports complex buildings shown include the Veterans Stadium, the Eagles' former home, and Citizens Bank Park, right. (George Widman / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Immortalized master

    A bronze bust of musical great Gustav Mahler, conceived in 1909 by French sculptor Auguste Rodin, exhibited next to other busts in the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia. (Jacqueline Larma / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Love in the middle

    Behind the fountain in JFK Plaza, Philadelphia's century-old City Hall is illuminated at night. (George Widman / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  2. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  3. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  4. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments