The Philadelphia region saw a 21% increase in tourists last year as more than 36 million people visited the region, according to Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The city and the bureau said Wednesday the increase shows tourism is rebounding in the region as the COVD-19 pandemic continues to ease.

While the sector saw year-over-year gains in visitation, spending, economic impact, tax revenue and jobs, a full recovery is not expected until 2023.

“The tourism and hospitality industry in Philadelphia and all over the world was devastated by COVID-19,” Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement. “The loss of tourism meant the loss of spending, tax revenue and jobs that all Philadelphians benefit from.”

Looking at domestic visits, Econsult Solutions said that 36.2 million people visited Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties in 2021, up 21% from 2020, but 19% below the 2019 record.

Visitors spent $5.2 billion, a gain of 26% from but down 32% from 2019.

This direct visitor spending generated $8.6 billion (or $23.5 million per day) in economic impact, up 26% from 2020 and down 30% from 2019. It also generated $734 million in state and local tax revenue, a gain of 23% from 2020. However, tax revenue was still down 27% from 2019.

Tourist spending also supported 76,700 jobs across food and beverage, lodging, transportation, recreation and retail sectors, according to Econsult. This was a 36% increase over 2020, but a 27% decrease from 2019.

Since 2011, the city has sold more than $8.6 billion of bonds, with the most issuance occurring in 2017 when it offered more than $2 billion.

In another sign of the resurgence, the Philadelphia’s Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History will reopen its building to visitors with free admission on May 13 after a two-year pandemic pause.

The museum closed in March 2020 after state and city officials implemented measures to limit the spread of COVID-19. The museum said that during the past two years, it has appointed a new CEO, emerged from Chapter 11, eliminated its debt and renamed itself in honor of shoe designer Stuart Weitzman. It also has created an endowment to ensure its future success.

“To see our hospitality community work so smartly, strategically and collaboratively to bring visitors back to our hotels, museums, restaurants and shops is hallmark Philly,” Kenney said. “And while the strides they made in 2021 were extraordinary, they are keenly focused on meeting and surpassing the record numbers set in 2019.”

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