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Destination DC announces record 2015 visitation and future convention lineup at the annual Marketing Outlook Meeting

Destination DC (DDC) 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.

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).  

“The Convention Sales and Services team is doing a phenomenal job attracting business to the city in 2017 and beyond,” said Ferguson. “Looking even further ahead, the team was able to book two citywides this year that will occur in 2018, a very unusual occurrence since most citywides are booked five years out and beyond. American Geophysical Union’s fall meeting will bring 45,440 total room nights, and True Value’s spring reunion will bring 12,880 total room nights.”  

Washington, DC’s 2015 record visitation year includes just over 2 million overseas visitors and 19.3 million domestic visitors. Visitor spending reached $7.1 billion, up 4.1%. According to IHS Global, Inc., business travelers comprise 62% of all spending. Tourism is an economic engine for the city, generating $757 million dollars in DC tax revenue.”  

More than 500 industry stakeholders and city leadership 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.  

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. The city is also gearing up for inauguration Jan. 20, 2017, and is a complete resource for hotel packages and special events.  

Destination DC will continue to highlight the city’s diverse neighborhoods, outstanding restaurants, nightlife, music, sports, arts and culture, shopping and attractions through its DC Cool campaign. Social media engagement and user-generated content through #MyDCcool – a hashtag that has been used nearly 45,000 times in the last year – will be further emphasized, providing authentic inspiration for travelers through the perspective of real-time experiences.  

DDC thanks its Marketing Outlook Meeting sponsors: presenting sponsor Big Bus; lunch sponsor Museum of the Bible; coffee sponsor Madame Tussauds Washington D.C.; media sponsor Washington Business Journal; as well as Events DC, Centerplate, The Wharf, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, Lufthansa, aRes, Newseum, Michelin, SnapFiesta, Hargrove, Senoda, District Doughnut, Expedia, Garrett Popcorn, WMATA, goDCgo, Miles, Projection, Convention Digital, MacMannes, HiTech Electric and GLP.

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