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June 25, 2015

With Papal Visit Approaching, Philadelphia Steps onto the
World Stage as a Premier International Destination

Rome, Italy (June 25, 2015) - The United States Embassy to the Holy See with the City of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB), VISIT PHILADELPHIA® and the World Meeting of Families - Philadelphia 2015 yesterday co-hosted a luncheon for international journalists highlighting Philadelphia, PA - host city for the Eighth World Meeting of Families- as a premier destination for international conventions and tourists from around the world. At this special briefing held at the elegant Villa Malta in Rome, guests were provided with an overview of Philadelphia's cultural, historic, and culinary treasures.

"In just three short months, our City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection will radiate warmth and hospitality on the world stage," said Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter. "Philadelphia is the big city for big events and that includes global events such as the World Meeting of Families - Philadelphia 2015. Today, we focus on showcasing our city's rich, history, traditions, and diversity for the world and elevating Philadelphia as an international destination for visitors of any age, creed or country. To have the opportunity to share this message so broadly is important as we want the world to know and visit Philadelphia not only this September but in the months and years to come. As Forbes magazine recently wrote, 'Philadelphia is having a moment,' and our role here is to ensure that the moment lasts. "

The Honorable Kenneth F. Hackett, United States Ambassador to the Holy See and a supporter of the World Meeting of Families - Philadelphia 2015, attended and spoke briefly at the event, cohosted by the United States Embassy to the Holy See, with VISIT PHILADELPHIA® and PHLCVB, the tourism and marketing agencies for the City of Philadelphia. Event speakers highlighted why international visitors, especially families, should come to Philadelphia. Special attention was paid to the extraordinary exhibitions, activities and tours being developed for the week of the World Meeting of Families - Philadelphia 2015 and the Papal visit, and to the deep history of religious freedom and immigrant heritage that help to define the City and give it such richness.

"We are a city with great history and natural humility, but the simple fact is that we are world-class in every way," said Daniel J. Hilferty, President and CEO of Independence Blue Cross who shared comments during the briefing. "As the CEO of a company that has always embraced civic engagement, I am deeply honored to not only serve as a co-chair for the World Meeting of Families and Pope Francis's visit but also, as Finance Chairman of the Democratic National Convention in 2016. For Philadelphia to be selected for these two major events - within just 10 months of each other - says something important about our city. It says that Philadelphia is an international destination -a city mentioned in the same breath as London, Paris and of course, the beautiful city of Rome!"

Co-sponsored by the Holy See's Pontifical Council for the Family and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the World Meeting of Families is a triennial global event that seeks to strengthen the sacred bonds of family across the globe and highlight its intrinsic value to the good of society. This international gathering will welcome Pope Francis to the United States for the first time in his Papacy. Being held in the United States for the first time ever, the official theme for the 2015 World Meeting of Families is "Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive."

About The United States Embassy to the Holy See
Formal diplomatic relations with the Holy See were established in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II. Through its mission outreach, the embassy works in partnership with the Holy See on global issues including HIV/AIDS, world hunger, religious freedom and human rights. As a global entity, the Holy See is influential on many issues and has far-reaching influence in even the most remote corners of the world.

Kenneth Hackett was nominated by President Barack Obama on June 14, 2013 to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See. The United States Senate confirmed Ambassador Hackett on August 1, 2013.

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Led by President and CEO, Jack Ferguson, the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB),, a private non-profit membership corporation that has proudly served the City of Philadelphia for 74 years. The PHLCVB is the official tourism promotion agency for the Philadelphia globally, and the primary sales and marketing agency for the expanded Pennsylvania Convention Center. The PHLCVB competes with its counterparts worldwide for convention and tourism business. The organization has departments dedicated to the multicultural, sports, and life sciences markets.

Led by President & CEO Meryl Levitz, VISIT PHILADELPHIA® makes Philadelphia and The Countryside® a premier destination through marketing and image building that increases the number of visitors, the number of nights they stay and the number of things they do in the five-county area.

On Greater Philadelphia's official visitor website and blog, and, visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages. Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with Visit Philly social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers. Travelers can also call and stop into the Independence Visitor Center for additional information and tickets.

About World Meetings of Families
Beginning with 1994, The Year of the Family, the Pontifical Council for the Family has been responsible for organizing the World Meetings of Families in Rome (1994); Rio de Janeiro (1997); Rome (2000); Manila (2003); Valencia (2006); Mexico City (2009); Milan (2012); and now, Philadelphia (2015). Since its inception by Saint John Paul II, the World Meeting of Families has sought to strengthen the sacred bonds of family across the globe.


Kenneth A. Gavin
Director of Communications

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