Phila. officials head to Ireland, U.K. to boost business, tourism ties
Philadelphia Business Journal
By Kenneth Hilario
Philadelphia officials this month will embark on a multicity business trip to Ireland and the United Kingdom with the hope of fortifying city relations while giving a boost to tourism between the countries.
The trip could prove meaningful because Philadelphia and Pennsylvania have strong business ties with the Emerald Isle, and the U.K. is consistently the city’s top market for overseas visitation.
Mayor Jim Kenney and representatives from the Department of Commerce on Oct 20 through 29 will visit nine cities in Ireland and the U.K., including stops in Dublin, Ireland; Belfast, Northern Ireland; and London and Cambridge, England. (See more information below, including participants.)
The focus, officials announced Monday, will be on business development, with additional work to support city-to-city relationship building and promote tourism between the countries.
Representatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, Select Greater Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau will have parallel missions in Ireland and the U.K.; they will join city officials at various points throughout the trip.
The city found the U.K. and Ireland were top markets for business development activity based on research from the Brookings Institution’s global identity project, an initiative that will help develop a new narrative.
The North West of Ireland, which launched an economic development initiative in the United States, was among the city’s early models for effective and unified marketing.
Ireland is one of the largest investor countries in Pennsylvania; Irish companies have 232 locations in the state, providing nearly 14,000 jobs, according to data by the Department of Community & Economic Development.
In Greater Philadelphia, seven of the top 10 Irish-owned companies in Pennsylvania have headquarters in the region, including Towers Watson Pennsylvania Inc., which provides 2,000 jobs, and Endo Health Solutions, which has about 385 jobs in its Malvern headquarters, according to the DCED.
The airline’s CEO previously described the addition as “transformational” for the company, connect leisure and business travelers to 21 other destinations through Dublin.
About 648,000 people from overseas visited Philadelphia in 2017, representing the third consecutive growth of growth. Most of the visitors came from the U.K., China, Germany, India and France — Philadelphia’s top feeder markets.
English companies have about 1,030 locations in Pennsylvania, providing 50,230 jobs, according to the DCED, citing data firm Dun & Bradstreet. About 43 percent of the companies are manufacturers that provide over 21,700 jobs.
The top Pennsylvania imports to and from the U.K. are pharmaceutical products. The total of all Pennsylvania imports from the U.K. is over $1.9 trillion, and the total for imports to the U.K. is over $1.8 trillion, according to the DCED.
Overseas visitation is also projected to grow 9.4 percent over the next five years, with the U.K. and other countries driving most of that growth, PHLCVB forecast in 2017.
The PHLCVB is on a month-long tourism generation campaign in the U.K. that includes several activities planned around the Philadelphia Eagles game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium on Oct. 28.
Kenney will attend the Eagles-Jaguars game, where he will have the opportunity to meet with the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.
The destination marketing organization will also make a stop at World Travel Market, one of the largest annual global travel trade shows.
The PHLCVB has global representation offices the U.K., which also covers Ireland, in addition to offices in China, India, Italy, France ant Germany.
“We have seen a number of international business leads following previous trips to Europe, Asia, and Canada; and we hope to replicate that success with our time spent in Ireland and the U.K.,” according to Commerce Director Harold T. Epps.
“Philadelphia must continue to explore opportunities for business development, not only beyond city and state boundaries, but across the globe,” Epps said. “Our economy is ever-changing, and the success of our city will increasingly be tied to our international reach.”
Philadelphia officials will also partner with the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development on five international business seminars focused on attracting businesses to Philadelphia and Pennsylvania.
They will participate in over 35 additional meetings with private companies, local governments, universities, technology centers and more.