Like many American cities, a significant subset of our population remains in poverty, lacking the skills needed to fill many of the jobs the city has to offer. As mayor, it's my job to figure out how to both address our city's challenges and boost our assets and, whenever possible, find solutions that meet those two needs at the same time. The city's hospitality industry offers Philadelphia that solution.
While all of the cameras and reporters are focused on the convention floor in Charlotte this week, there is a different story going on behind the scenes that hardly anyone has noticed. In the first six months of this year, international visitors spent an estimated $82.2 billion on U.S. travel and tourism-related goods and services, an 11 percent increase over the same period last year. Each one of those foreign dollars helps build up our economy and create new jobs that can never be outsourced overseas.
As thousands of Democratic National Convention delegates descend on the great City of Charlotte, North Carolina, mayors across the country are reminded of just how important our convention, tourism and hospitality industries are for our local economies. In Baltimore, we have made smart investments in tourism to promote our city as a desired destination for large conventions, sports fans and the casual weekend traveler. These investments have had major impact on the city as a whole and the well-being of all of our residents.