WASHINGTON, DC – Destination DC (DDC) today announced a record 21.3 million total visitors to Washington, DC in 2015, up 5% over 2014. DDC president and CEO Elliott L Ferguson led the annual Marketing Outlook Meeting, highlighting the impact of tourism and sharing the organization’s plans for the upcoming year to market the nation’s capital to business and leisure travelers.
“We’re thrilled with another record visitation year, welcoming just over 2 million overseas visitors for the first time along with the 19.3 million domestic visitors,” said Ferguson. “Visitor spending reached $7.1 billion, up 4.1%. Tourism is an economic engine for the city, generating $757 million dollars in DC tax revenue.”
More than 500 industry stakeholders and city leadership, including Mayor Muriel E. Bowser, attended the meeting at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. “Destination DC had another remarkable year attracting visitors, creating a huge boon for our local businesses and economy,” said Mayor Muriel E. Bowser. “Most importantly, tourism directly supports over 74,000 jobs here at home, leaving a positive impact on our community and creating pathways to the middle class for thousands of District residents. With vibrant neighborhoods, iconic museums and monuments, and a world-class restaurant scene, I look forward to another banner year for tourism in the nation’s capital.”
Overseas visitation was up 7.8% over 2014. Washington, DC’s top overseas market is China, with 300,000 visitors in 2015, a 36% increase over the previous year. In 2015, Washington, DC saw 11.6% of all Chinese visitors to the U.S., up from 10.1% in 2014. Destination DC will launch a Welcome China program in September to further help its 850 members attract Chinese travelers. The top overseas visitor markets to DC, in order of visitation, were China, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, France, India, South Korea, Brazil, Italy and Japan. Though 9% of the total number of visitors to DC, international visitors [overseas visitors plus visitors from Canada and Mexico] represent 27% of the visitor spending.
With 21 citywide conventions and events, 2017 is poised to be a strong year. Citywide conventions are meetings that bring 2,500 room nights or more on peak to Washington, DC. The total economic impact for these meetings is $357 million with 484,649 total room nights. Highlights include the American College of Cardiology with 45,565 total room nights (March 17-19); Microsoft with 62,385 total room nights (July 10-13); and Society for Neuroscience with 54,100 total room nights (Nov. 12-15).
Also a citywide, Washington, DC will host U.S. Travel Association’s IPW 2017 for the first time, June 3-7, 2017. IPW is the single largest generator of travel to the U.S. According to Rockport Analytics, in the three years following IPW, the host city is expected to receive an additional one million international visitors and $1.7 billion in economic impact, with $84 million in local taxes.
Washington, DC’s landscape is booming with $9.6 billion in development underway, including the Wharf, a 24 acre $2 billion project along the Southwest Waterfront, and nearly 4,500 hotel rooms in the pipeline. The city’s dining scene is gaining international attention, and in October will become the 4th North American destination to receive a Michelin Guide to its restaurants.
Washington, DC was also recently named “Restaurant City of the Year” by Bon Appétit. Smithsonian Institution’s highly anticipated National Museum of African American History and Culture opens Sept. 24. The National Gallery of Art’s East Building re-opens Sept. 30 after a three-year renovation.