After 13 years, the head of Philly’s Independence Visitors Center is stepping down

As Cuorato steps down, he’s optimistic about the direction Philly tourism is heading.

Philadellphia's Independence Visitor Center, located in Independence National Historical Park. (Big Stock/dennizn)

Philadellphia's Independence Visitor Center, located in Independence National Historical Park. (Big Stock/dennizn)

Over his career, James Cuorato has seen considerable change in how Philadelphia promotes and markets itself to visitors. As he steps down as CEO of the Independence Visitors Center this week, Cuorato sees a bright future for Philly tourism.

Cuorato worked as Philadelphia’s commerce director and was head of the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation before taking over the Independence Visitors Center more than a decade ago. He says the city has come a long way in his years of service and is finally promoting itself as a destination for everyone.

“How we market ourselves and how we promote the city, I think, has changed over the years,” he said. “There’s been more of an emphasis on promoting the city as really a destination where you can find arts and culture, you can find culinary treasures, you can find world-class museums.”

He lauded plans to better integrate the waterfront into Old City.

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“I think the plans for capping the interstate and creating a very exciting public space and linking the waterfront more closely with Old City and the historic district can only be a huge boon to the whole area, really,” said Cuoroto. “We’re all really looking forward to that.”


Cuorato believes the city’s time to shine is in the near future.

“Despite some setbacks that have occurred over the last several years, you know, in the areas of public safety that I think everyone would acknowledge, we’re still poised for tremendous growth,” he said. “And certainly ready to be the center of the celebrations for the upcoming semiquincentennial in 2026.”

Cuorato says he’s not ready to completely retire, but he wants to find a part-time job so he can spend more time with his family. He says customer service has been his speciality in his time at the Visitor’s Center and that he’s learned a great deal about how people should be treated.

“It was a very rewarding part of the job because you actually get to talk to visitors,” he said. “It’s one thing to try to figure out what people want to do and where they want to go and what their feelings about the city are. But the best way to do that is to actually talk to them. I’ve talked to hundreds, if not thousands, of people over the years, and it’s been a very, very rewarding experience.”

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