Jeff Guaracino, President and CEO of Visit Philadelphia, passes away
After an enduring fight against cancer, Philly’s prominent tourism expert Guaracino dies at the age of 48.
Jeff Guaracino, president and CEO of Visit Philadelphia, died on Tuesday, Dec. 28, after an ongoing fight with cancer. Guaracino, 48, was known for his tourism leadership and creativity to drive new initiatives in the city.
Manny Stamatakis, chairman of the board of Visit Philadelphia, confirmed Guaracino’s passing to AL DÍA.
“Jeff was a beloved family member, partner and friend, as well as a passionate leader, avid traveler, celebrated author, teacher, mentor and role model. His fun spirit and strong sense of self were with him until the end,” said Stamatakis in a statement.
Guaracino first began at VisitPhilly as their vice president of communications in 2001. He held the position for 11 years.
Yet, Guaracino’s professional career extends further than the admired tourist guide.
Early in his career, Guaracino developed his marketing skills at both CBS and the Franklin Institute, says Justin Pizzi, vice president of strategic implementation at Visit Philly.
In 2012, Guaracino worked as the chief strategy and communications officer for the Atlantic City Alliance, a private destination marketing nonprofit in New Jersey. Later he was promoted as their executive director in 2015.
Guaracino served as the president and CEO of Wawa Welcome America Inc. for two years, an organization that looks to improve resident and visitor experience citywide.
He was also an author and public speaker in Philadelphia.
A Rowan University alum, Guaracino received his bachelor’s of arts in communication and marketing in 1995. In addition, he studied for a few years at Camden County College.
During COVID-19 outbreaks and the 2020 lockdowns, Guaracino, with his crisis-management background, helped shift Visit Philly’s focus to safe tourism projects.
Some of those projects included Philly Live Weekends, a Facebook collaboration with NBC10; Love + Grit, a diversity podcast, and a BIPOC-owned business initiative.
In 2021, Philadelphia’s tourism industry saw one of its fastest recoveries because of Guaracino’s efforts.
Guaracino was a Philadelphia native and lived in the city’s Society Hill region.