CEO, Visit Philadelphia
In her role as president and CEO of Visit Philadelphia®, Meryl Levitz is responsible for building the region’s image and growing its tourism industry, worth $10.7 billion in economic impact. Stated simply, her job is to get people to visit Philadelphia. A respected civic leader and consummate convener, Levitz has spent more than 30 years working to get Philadelphia’s hospitality industry recognized as a vibrant one and to get Philadelphia and The Countryside® recognized as a premier destination. In 2015 alone, the region welcomed a record 41 million domestic visitors—36.2 million (88%) of which came for a leisure purpose.
Levitz works with Visit Philadelphia’s board and staff to build Greater Philadelphia’s image, drive visitation and boost the economy. The region’s official tourism marketing agency employs advertising, public relations, web and social media tactics, hotel marketing and research. Successful campaigns include: Phillyosophy®, an evolution of the beloved With Love, Philadelphia XOXO®; Philly’s More Fun When You Sleep Over®, the most successful post-9/11 hospitality recovery campaign in the country; the groundbreaking Philadelphia – Get Your History Straight And Your Nightlife Gay®; Philly 360°® for younger, tech-savvy travelers; With Art Philadelphia®, the city’s first-ever coordinated visual arts marketing effort; and Historic Philadelphia, the organization’s newest campaign aimed at getting more people to visit the orgininal city and do more while in the area.
After receiving Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Illinois, Levitz began her career as an educator but soon began promoting her adopted town of Philadelphia, first as co-founder of the Center City Proprietors Association in 1978 and later at the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, where she oversaw the opening of the Pennsylvania Convention Center, opened the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing and developed annual celebrations (Jambalaya Jam, River Blues, Yo! Philadelphia and others) to draw crowds to the waterfront. In 2002 and 2003, Levitz co-chaired Governor Ed Rendell’s tourism-transition team. In all of her positions, the thought leader and cultural champion has focused on image building and branding, economic development and civic engagement, determined to make Philadelphians proud of and passionate about the place they call home.
Recognized locally and nationally for the tourism marketing work they do, Levitz and the Visit Philadelphia team have accrued a wealth of honors over the years. Travel news site Skift named Levitz to its World’s Top Travel Marketers list in December 2013. Visit Philadelphia’s campaigns and web and social media properties have garnered plenty of praise as well from lauded organizations and publications such as U.S. Travel Association, Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International, International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, International Academy of the Visual Arts, Travel + Leisure and Travel Weekly, among others.