Tourism boom means record capital gains for DC

Tourism boom means record capital gains for DC

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Washington DC welcomed a record number of tourists in 2023, although international guests are yet to recover to pre-pandemic levels.

Destination DC (DDC), the official destination marketing organisation for the nation’s capital, said the city received 25.95 million visitors last year, up 17% from 2022, a number that surpassed the previous record set in 2019.

Of the record 25.95 million total visitors, the vast majority were domestic travellers, a number which has fully rebounded to 105% of 2019 figures. International visitation was 1.95 million, 85% of 2019 levels.

The new benchmark resulted in a record $10.2 billion in visitor spending and supported a record 102,366 local jobs.

International travellers typically stay longer and spend twice as much on average as domestic visitors. The UK is Washington, DC’s second biggest international market, after Canada. Last year 185,000 visitors arrived from the UK, with the $274,600,000 they spent topped only by India (whose nationals travelled further and stayed longer).

“This is a major milestone for Washington, DC, said Elliott L. Ferguson, II, president and CEO, DDC. “Put simply, we are seeing the results of our increased marketing and sales efforts thanks to the tourism recovery district legislation, and the city is benefitting from increased tourism. There is still work to do, however, since international travel hasn’t fully recovered. We will continue to entice international visitors who stay longer and spend more.”

DDC launched its current creative campaign ‘There’s Only One DC’ last November, positioning DC as “wholly unique” and spotlighting its diversity of experiences and the many free things to do.

Campaign content connects to washington.org, which lists hotel dealsevent datesdining and itinerary inspiration. Travelers can book stays directly at stay.washington.org.

There is plenty that is new in the city this year. A new tech-driven White House visitors center, The People’s House, opens this autumn, as does the city’s first Arlo hotel (in October). Meanwhile, the Salamander, a luxury hotel along the revitalised Southwest Waterfront, is expected to complete its phased enhancements.

Also on the hotel front, the St. Regis, Four Seasons and Capital Hilton have all unveiled renovations, while rebrands include the Hotel Nell – Union Market and Hotel AKA Washington Circle.

Tourists to the city next year will be able to see two giant pandas after the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute announced the animals will return by the end of the year.

And in 2026, Washington, DC will host a year-long celebration commemorating America’s 250th anniversary throughout the city’s cultural institutions, museums, attractions, restaurants and hotels.

The zoo will be one of only two in the U.S. to house the iconic animals, and the only one with free entry.

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