Welcome to Philadelphia-ish: DNC a boon for suburban hotels

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    CEO of the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board

    CEO of the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board

    Late last year, the Democratic National Convention Committee awarded contracts to 26 hotels around the region — including 10 in a Montgomery County “delegate cluster.”

    Nearly half of the Democratic delegations pouring into the Philadelphia for next week’s Democratic National Convention won’t actually be staying in the city, providing suburban communities a chance to rake in some tourism dollars, while also extending the commute for delegates.

    DNCers in the ‘burbs by the numbers

    American Samoan delegates will sleep in Lansdale. Philadelphia Marriott West, which is actually in Conshohocken, will host Mississippi.

    Delegates representing 25 of the 57 states and territories represented will crash in hotels in Montgomery, Chester and Delaware counties.

    Here’s the breakdown:

    CHESTER (Malvern)Democrats AbroadPuerto Rico

    DELAWARE (Essington)MaineNew HampshireRhode IslandVermont

    MONTGOMERY (Valley Forge, Conshohocken, King of Prussia, Lansdale)AlabamaAmerican SamoaDistrict of ColumbiaGuamHawaiiIdahoIndianaMichiganMinnesotaMississippiNorth CarolinaNorth DakotaNorthern Mariana IslandsOklahomaOregonSouth DakotaTennesseeUtahWest Virginia

    Playing host

    To pre-empt any fear of missing out on delegates staying outside the city, the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board sent a highlight reel of area attractions to delegates, set to the strains of John Mellencamp’s “R.O.C.K. in the USA,” earlier this year.

    Valley Forge National Park interim superintendent Pat Madden, dressed in his park ranger duds, shows off the area’s Revolutionary history, asking visitors to “come to Valley Forge to enjoy a tour by trolley, by car, hiking or biking.”

    Meanwhile, tourism board CEO Mike Bowman, in a black suit, has one message for delegates: hit the mall.

    “Did I mention all the amazing shopping here in Montgomery County and in the Valley Forge/King of Prussia area?”

    Most delegates aren’t in situ in suburban Philadelphia yet, but staff members have started to trickle in.

    Dave Miranda, communications manager for the North Carolina delegation, is staying with that state’s 141 delegates in a Lansdale Holiday Inn.

    As Democratic Party staff, Miranda said he doesn’t anticipate having time to kill sightseeing — although the delegates might.

    “I’ll probably start working at 7:30 am … and go until they gavel the convention at 10 or 10:30 at night, and then go to whatever party we’ve decided,” he said. In his view, the longer commute is a trade up for spreading around some of the economic boost delegates will bring to the area.

    Travel times from the Wells Fargo center to points in Lansdale and Malvern can take an hour during rush hour travel, so DNC’s transportation committee arranged shuttle buses from hotels to the Wells Fargo and Convention Centers, as well as to suburban transit stops.

    Bowman said the sheer number of people staying in the region will be record-breaking.

    “Between tourism and the DNC coming into the fold, we’re going to have a record July revenue month for Montgomery County,” he said, although it’s too early to put a figure on the haul.

    As a result of their partnership with the DNC, 83 percent of the 8,000 hotels across Montgomery county are booked for the coming week.

    By that measure, the convention is an even bigger bonanza for Montgomery County than Pope Francis. Hotel occupancy in the county only hit 80 percent during his visit in September.

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