PRESIDENT AND CEO

Philly Controller: Merge City Tourism Agencies

Philadelphia's controller is calling for two city tourism agencies to combine.

A merger of the Convention and Visitors Bureau and Visit Philadelphia could save a million dollars a year, said Alan Butkovitz.

"We're the only large city with two agencies promoting tourism as opposed to one -- and that involves some disparity in messaging and branding," he said Tuesday.

Butkovitz says the savings could be found in combining offices and administrative expenses as well as information technology services.

Meryl Levitz, who heads Visit Philadelphia, said she would welcome further exploration of combining forces with the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"Sometimes, mergers work and sometimes they don't," she said. "But I think we all need to be open to different ways that we can look at making sure our city and our region come out on top."

Meanwhile, Jack Ferguson, the president and CEO of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, said his agency is reviewing the report with its chairman and administrative committee.

"At first glance, we see many opportunities to respond with additional information and need more time to do a deeper dive, especially on the numbers and market segment results," he said.

Both agencies are funded from the city's hotel tax, which in 2013 provided $12 million to the bureau and $8 million to Visit Philadelphia.

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