Destination DC (DDC), the official tourism organization for Washington, DC, today announced 20.8 million domestic visitors in 2017, up 4.2% over 2016 according to DK Shifflet. Elliott L. Ferguson, II, DDC’s president and CEO, confirmed the 8th consecutive record-breaking year at Travel Rally, a celebration of the tourism industry’s importance to Washington, DC.
“Destination DC is an economic development organization. Our marketing and sales efforts are aimed at bringing more business and leisure visitors to the nation’s capital, who spend nights in our hotels, dine out, and take advantage of DC’s incredible nightlife and world-class attractions on the National Mall and throughout DC’s neighborhoods,” said Ferguson.
According to IHS Markit, visitors spent $7.5 billion in 2017, up 3.1%, which accounts for both domestic and international spending. Spending surpassed $7 billion for the third time and grew 6.5% on accommodations, 4.2% on food and 1.2% on transportation. Leisure spending increased by 5.9% and business spending was up 1.3%.
Tourism has a significant impact on the local job force, and sustained 75,048 DC jobs in 2017, up 0.5% over 2016 and surpassing 75,000 for the first time since 2013.
“Washington, DC is a city that has something for everyone – from world-class museums to sports and theater to internationally-acclaimed restaurants and music – and people from across the country and around the world continue to recognize all we have to offer,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser. “This increase in tourism means more jobs and resources for our residents and neighborhoods and has helped ensure that our local economy remains one of the strongest in the nation. Congratulations to Destination DC on another record-breaking year and for the work that they do to successfully bring visitors to DC.”
Travel Rally united local industry leaders and DDC member businesses. The event was held at The Wharf during the U.S. Travel Association’s National Travel and Tourism Week, a celebration of the impact of travel across the U.S.
“DC’s event was a great opportunity to shine a spotlight on the importance of our industry,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “We are proud to help spread the word that traveler spending supported 15.6 million American jobs and generated $2.4 trillion in economic output last year. National Travel and Tourism Week underscores the value that travel holds for our economy and our lives, and we are thrilled to be a part of this year’s celebration.”
New attractions, restaurants, hotels and development all give reasons for visitors to return to DC. There are 15 hotels with 3,427 rooms in the pipeline, including new builds, renovations and re-openings. Among them: Hilton Washington DC National Mall this summer; Courtyard by Marriott and Residence Inn near the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and Eaton Hotel downtown this fall. The Conrad Hotel joins CityCenterDC in 2019. The International Spy Museum relocates to L’Enfant Plaza in 2019. Travel Rally was held at The Wharf to highlight the significance of the riverfront development’s arrival last October.
“It’s been an honor to welcome millions of people to The Wharf and see this incredible waterfront neighborhood come to life,” said Monty Hoffman, Founder and CEO of PN Hoffman. “The Wharf is a world-class waterfront destination that truly offers something for locals and visitors from all over the world, from live music, great food and drinks and shopping, to public piers and parks, and new ways to enjoy DC’s greatest natural resource – its waterfront.”
In 2018, DC hosts 21 citywide meetings (2,500 rooms on peak and above), generating 432,915 room nights and an economic impact of $378 million, including World Conference of the International Gas Union (June 25-29), Infor’s “Inforum” (Sept. 25-26) and American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting (Dec. 10-14).
“Events DC is proud to be a part of today’s booming travel industry in our nation’s capital,” said Gregory A. O’Dell, president and chief executive officer of Events DC. “From a record-breaking year of events and conventions at our venues including the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, to exciting new projects and initiatives like the redevelopment of the RFK Campus and new Entertainment and Sports Arena which opens this fall, we’re excited to play a key role in making the District a great place to live and work for residents and visitors alike.”
DDC continues the momentum in 2018 with its largest advertising campaign promoting summer travel, which debuted on May 1 in the New York, Philadelphia, Richmond, Chicago and Los Angeles markets. The media mix includes print, digital and out-of-home placements such as double decker bus wraps.
Upcoming events include the new By The People arts festival (June 21-24), DC Jazz Festival (June 8-17), MLB® All-Star Week (July 13-17), the opening of DC United’s Audi Field on July 14, Hamilton at the Kennedy Center (June 16-Sept. 12) and Alexander Hamilton-inspired experiences.