Tonight, Global Philadelphia Association will hold its third annual World Heritage City Celebration with a special dinner at the Crystal Tea Room. This one-of-a-kind event supports the work being done to carry out Philadelphia’s World Heritage Strategic Plan. In 2015, Philadelphia became the first U.S. city to receive the designation of a World Heritage City (WHC), connecting over 280 World Heritage cities across the globe. This year, the tradition continues as Philadelphia celebrates its unique heritages and common bonds by marking September 13 World Heritage Cities Solidarity Day, with dinner, cocktails and live entertainment.
CEO Report spoke with Zabeth Teelucksingh, Executive Director for Global Philadelphia Association, about what being a World Heritage City means for Philadelphia.
Why was Philadelphia chosen as the first U.S. World Heritage City?
Philadelphia became a World Heritage City when we were accepted as full members of the Organizations of World Heritage Cities (OWHC) in the Fall of 2015. Our city qualified essentially because of our having a World Heritage site, Independence Hall, within the city boundaries as well as being a remarkable city both culturally and historically. The application was a joint-venture of the city of Philadelphia and the Global Philadelphia Association.
What does the designation mean for the city in terms of economic impact?
The designation has many implications, first and foremost for increasing tourism to Philadelphia and the region, particularly international tourism. It also emphasizes civic pride, Philadelphia’s recognition on the international stage, it furthers economic activity, enhances attractiveness of real estate and appeals to what is generally termed the “creative class.”
What programs is the WHC project working on?
The World Heritage City Project work focuses on four areas:
- Preserving and Celebrating Philadelphia’s Historical and Cultural Assets
- Educating Global Kids with Roots
- Building World Heritage City Awareness and Ownership
- Extending Philadelphia’s Global Reach
In addition to Philadelphia being represented in international meetings of the OWHC, the OWHC Board of directors will hold their board meeting in Philadelphia in the late Fall of 2019. Eight Mayors and their representatives, of major cities will be in Philadelphia on that occasion. We intend subsequently to host larger OWHC meetings in our city.
How can local businesses and nonprofits leverage the city’s WHC potential?
We have created a World Heritage seal which shows that you are part of our World Heritage City. This is free for non-commercial use to use as part of any organization in Philadelphia’s marketing materials.
There are opportunities to be connected with other World Heritage Cities and joint venture cultural programming for example. The project offers opportunities for Philadelphia business leaders to connect to global partners through the relationships we have with OWHC cities public and private sector leaders.