Officials announce strategies to increase tourism in DC

D.C. leaders are hoping to increase tourism in the District. Destination D.C. (DDC), the official destination marketing organization for the city, announced strategies on Wednesday to bring more tourism to the city.

As part of this campaign to bring in more tourists to the city, DDC officials highlighted different events, venues, and accommodations that the city has to offer.

The push to increase tourism comes amid a recent rise in violence in the city, including a shooting Wednesday morning outside of a school in D.C. that left two juveniles hurt. Despite the violence, D.C. officials say they are plenty of reasons to come visit.

"The key thing for us is to focus on what folks know but also to focus on what's new in Washington, including the 9.3-billion dollars in investment," said Elliott L. Ferguson, II, President and CEO of Destination D.C.

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D.C. leaders say around 19.1 million people traveled to Washington, D.C. in 2021, spending more than $5 billion for the local economy. While these numbers are up from 2020, they have still not returned to 2019's pre-pandemic levels when visitors generated $8.2 billion for the local economy in D.C.

To increase awareness among potential tourists, officials first highlighted the improvements D.C. made to its accommodations available to visitors, saying that there are 26 new or newly renovated hotels open in the city adding over 5,000 new hotels rooms for travelers coming to the District.

Officials believe that the extra hotel space will help more people stay in the city for upcoming major events, like D.C. JazzFest over Labor Day Weekend, the return of Theatre Week in September, and Major League Soccer’s All-Star Game, being held in July of 2023. 

They also highlighted other big events or venues that could bring tourists to D.C., including the newly reopened East Building at the National Gallery of Art, the Kennedy Center's interactive permanent exhibit dedicated to President John F. Kennedy debuting in September, phase two of the Wharf opening in October, the reopening of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum with eight new galleries in October, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden breaking ground on its Sculpture Garden renovation in November, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts reopening in 2023.

Officials say the city will also welcome 9 citywide conventions in 2022, generating an estimated economic impact of more than $265,000,000.

"D.C.’s tourism economy is moving forward, so now our role as a short-term economic development organization is to be aggressive with high-impact advertising, attract more conventions and meetings and win back overseas travelers because of their higher spending potential," said Ferguson. "There is strong investment in D.C. with exciting reasons to visit from new hotels, dining and nightlife to signature events, free things to do, arts and culture, shopping, sports and much more." 

To help potential tourists learn about what's going on in D.C., officials are launching the Experience D.C. advertising campaign which targets visitor groups the city believes would enjoy D.C. including, eclectic cultural travelers, sports enthusiasts, foodies, historophiles and families.

"We spread the word that D.C. is open – and people heard us," said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. "We are very happy to have visitors from across the nation and around the world back in D.C. – visiting the many attractions in our city, dining in our restaurants, shopping at local businesses, staying in our hotels, and then telling people back home about all the fantastic things to do in Washington, DC. We are going to keep spreading the word that D.C. is open, and we will keep giving people new ways to enjoy our city."