Jeff Guaracino, the president and CEO of Visit Philadelphia and a tourism leader who has worked to boost the economies of Philly and Atlantic City, died Tuesday after battling cancer. He was 48 years old.
As the head of Visit Philadelphia, the region’s leading tourism marketing agency, Guaracino was responsible for drawing visitors to the city’s landmarks, hotels and restaurants. He has led the group since 2018 and recently oversaw campaigns and partnerships to rebuild the hospitality and tourism industry in the aftermath of the pandemic.
Guaracino passed away peacefully at his home in Philadelphia, his family announced in a Facebook post on Wednesday morning.
“With a heavy heart, we inform you that we have lost a cherished family member, partner and deeply faithful friend,” wrote family members. “Jeff was an inspiring leader, passionate traveler, talented author and writer, teacher, learner, mentor and role model.”
Prior to taking the helm of Visit Philadelphia in 2018, Guaracino was the Managing Director of Welcome America, a non-profit organization that hosts events across the city to draw visitors to Philly. He was also the executive director of the Atlantic City Alliance (ACA), a New Jersey marketing agency tasked with promoting the gambling complex after Hurricane Sandy and the casino closings.
Guaracino, originally from Philadelphia, previously spent 11 years at Visit Philadelphia, from 2001 to 2012, as a director and then as vice president of communications. Guaracino began his career with KYW-TV and CBS Radio, then as Director of Communications for the Franklin Institute.
He was also a leader in the LGBTQ community. He is the author of two books: 2007 Gay and lesbian tourism: the essential guide to marketing, and 2017 Handbook of LGBT Tourism and Hospitality: A Guide for Business Practice, he co-written by Ed Salvato. He is the travel columnist for the Philadelphia Gay News.
Guaracino recently resided at Society Hill and was a graduate of Rowan University and Camden County Community College.