Philadelphia tourism official and LGBTQ advocate Jeff Guaracino, whose creative ad campaigns helped draw diverse groups of visitors to the city, has died at 48.
Guaracino, the chief executive officer of Visit Philadelphia, helped launch a series of catchy, bold tourism slogans such as “Philly’s more fun when you sleep over."
He died Tuesday of cancer, the agency said in a press release.
Guaracino authored two books on gay travel marketing. In a 2018 interview with Philadelphia magazine, he said that a 2003 campaign aimed at the gay community — featuring the slogan “Get your history straight and your nightlife gay" — had been a risk, but a calculated one.
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“Philadelphia was already gay-friendly," he said. “Philadelphia’s had a reputation since its very beginning that all are welcome.”
Mayor Jim Kenney, in a statement Wednesday, said Guaracino left an “indelible mark” on Philadelphia.
“A fierce champion and promoter of his hometown, Jeff was also a proud advocate for the LGBTQ community. With his trademark energy, charismatic charm, and never-ending wit, he helped make Philadelphia the welcoming city and destination that it proudly is today," Kenney said.
Guaracino had led the tourism agency since 2018, having previously worked on its communications team and led Wawa Welcome America Inc., which runs the city’s Fourth of July celebrations. He also led Atlantic City Alliance after Superstorm Sandy hit the New Jersey coast in 2012.