Camden Courier Post - November 28, 1980

1980 is year of Philly tourist blitz

 

By James C. Lawson of the Courier-Post

 

PHILADELPHIA – Still drenched with the euphoria that accompanies a World Series championship, the city has begun marketing its soft pretzels, Italian Market, the Art Museum and winning attitude to attract more tourists' and conventioneers' dollars.

 

The Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, armed with a new "Philadelphia Style: Come and Get It" signature song and a $750,000 advertising campaign, is rolling up its sleeves and slugging it out with New York and Chicago hoping to gain a bigger share of the convention and tourist market.

 

The campaign features a heavy media blitz and special weekend tour packages aimed at travelers who have never before visited Philadelphia.

 

And so far, the city with a Rodney Dangerfield "no respect" complex seems to have found another fast track to victory. Bureau officials have attracted the American Hospital Supply and the 15,000 member Rotary International conventions to the city for the first time.

 

The Rotary convention, scheduled for early June 1988, is expected to generate nearly $4 million for local merchants. The city, last year, was host to 361 conventions. This year 382 conventions have been scheduled, while nearly 400 will be held here next year.

 

Convention and Visitors Bureau officials are hoping for a yearly convention increase of 8 percent.

 

They expect the campaign to generate more than $1 billion in travel-related revenues next year.

 

"We're hitting the travel agents, corporate convention planners and foreign travel writers," said Samuel Rogers, a Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau spokesman said. "We've changed our approach. Instead of going to them to talk about our city, we're flying them in so they can see Philadelphia for themselves. We feel Philadelphia sells itself. And we've found it's less expensive to fly them in because we can get special rates on travel and accommodations."

 

It's easier to sell the city now because of "the Phillies, the Eagles, the Flyers, and the Sixers are all winners," Mayor Bill Green told more than 600 prominent business and political leaders during a luncheon earlier this week at the Franklin Plaza Hotel.

 

"We've adopted the winning attitude," Mayor Green continued. "More people know about Philadelphia because of its sports teams."

 

City officials also hope that outsiders have heard about the new hotels – which give metropolitan Philadelphia more than 7,500 first-rate rooms – new restaurants the many cultural and historic attractions.

 

"We want to let the world know we're not rolling up the sidewalks, we're rolling out the red carpet." Mayor Green told the diners. "We have a lot to offer and we want to let people know they can come and get it."

 

Many city officials and local merchants also believe that Atlantic City and its budding casino industry will prove to be another good attraction.

 

"The casinos will bring some people our way," said Rogers. "Atlantic City will attract people who'll rather stay there, but we're selling tourist on the idea they can stay here and take a one or two day bus tour to the casinos.

 

"We want everyone to get a taste of our town."

Santa gets a big welcome

 

By the Associated Press

 

PHILADELPHIA – Santa arrived here yesterday, sharing the limelight with a girl with a white rabbit and a popular baseball third baseman.

 

Thousands lined city streets here yesterday for the 61st annual Gimbels Thanksgiving Day Parade, a colorful procession of floats, marching bands and celebrities.

 

This year, the parade's theme was Alice in Wonderland, the children's classic by Lewis Carroll. Floats depicted Alice being rescued by colorful lobsters and turtles and meeting up with the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat and the caterpillar with the hookah.

 

At last, Santa Claus climaxed the parade with a ride aboard a sleigh pulled by reindeer over snow- covered rooftops on a 55-foot float.

 

In the old days, Santa climbed a fire department ladder to enter Gimbels through an upstairs window. But the new department store in The Gallery shopping center on Market Street is air conditioned with no upper-floor windows.

 

So, the modern-minded old elf took a ride in a fire department cherry picker to the roof and then descended to the ground and walked into the store to greet his young fans.

 

The parade was marred when a van pulling a Salvation Army float failed to stop when a band did and rolled into the last line of marchers. Two members of the Tipton, Ind., High School marching band were taken to Jefferson Hospital, where they were treated for cuts and bruises and then released. Police said the accident happened when the van's driver, Donna Smith of Philadelphia, failed to notice that the band had stopped.

 

The float being pulled by the van was carrying comedian Joey Bishop, and spectators said both he and Smith appeared to be very upset at the incident. Police said they did not expect to file charges against the driver.

 

Other stars joining in the parade were singers Bobby Rydell and Fabian, and Phillies baseball players Mike Schmidt, Warren Brusstar and Larry Bowa.

 

Schmidt, voted Most Valuable Player in the National League earlier in the week, appeared to received more cheers than Santa as he rolled down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway as grand marshal.