Last month, the Travel Channel named Pittsburgh as one of the top 10 “All-American Vacations” of 2014. It highlighted the city‘s arts scene, noting museums such as The Warhol and the Mattress Factory, and described Pittsburgh as “one of the hippest cities in America.”
It‘s just the latest acknowledgement of the Steel City’s rising stature as a popular tourist destination -- an industry that generated $5.5 billion in spending for Allegheny County in 2013.
To meet this growing demand, four new excursions were announced in May, including the first tour of local movie sites to recognize a few of the 120-plus movies and TV productions that have filmed here since 1990.
So, who are the people who are selling our city and presenting the information that shape the views of visitors coming to our region? Who are the faces they see?
Here are profiles of a dozen so-called ambassadors of Pittsburgh, from popular tour guides to hotel employees to taxi drivers and more.
Running tours give residents and tourists alike a different vantage point to see Pittsburgh sights.
Just Ducky tours run from April 1 through Nov. 30, and get in all the "facts and quacks" before the tour is over.
Louise Sturgess' love of Pittsburgh history shines during her walking tours given to the public.
When cab driver Earl Farrell picks up a fare, part of the journey can include a history of the city.
Jamie Blatter, a former flight attendant turned Realtor, is now at home guiding visitors through Pittsburgh’s Clayton.
Two North Side siblings lead Segway tours along the city's sidewalks to show people from around the world all their hometown has to offer.
East Liberty resident Darryl Cann, 54, isn't a tour guide, although he often acts like one -- as well as a waiter and a music historian.
"Hot dogs! Who's ready for a hot dog?" David Sakulsky trumpets. "You know you want a hot dog!"
Melissa Balkovec of 'Burgh Bits and Bites Tour is an ambassador for Pittsburgh natives and tourists alike.
Being a successful guide for Haunted Pittsburgh takes more than an eerie voice, ominous grin and black attire.
Tour guide 'brews' interest in Pittsburgh's breweries near and far.
As the area transformed in recent decades, tourism rose to a new level of prominence, growing into a $5.5 billion a year industry that generates almost 40,000 jobs countywide.