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DC Visitation Numbers Are on the Rise

Destination DC reports strong trends following launch of new advertising campaign

By Madeline Fuerstenberg

DC CREDIT Roman Babakin_Adobe
Tourists gather at the Reflecting Pool between the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC || Photo by Roman Babakin, courtesy of Adobe

In conjuncture with the launch of a new advertising campaign, Destination DC (DDC), the official destination marketing organization for Washington, DC, announced visitation rates are trending toward pre-pandemic levels. According to DDC, the nation’s capital welcomed 21.9 million visitors—up from 19.1 million the previous year—including 1.2 international visitors, in 2022. That means domestic visitation rebounded to 91% of pre-pandemic numbers, while international visitation rebounded to 60%, the organization says.

“We knew domestic travelers would return quicker than those from international markets, and when domestic travelers are considering where to spend their money, the data tells us DC is a top choice,” says Elliott L. Ferguson, II, president and CEO of DDC, in a prepared statement. “The data also tells us we must continue enticing international travelers to return. With support from the tourism recovery district legislation, we will continue to win back global travelers with higher spending potential. That matters because visitors directly support local jobs and contribute to the quality of life for residents.”

DDC reports international visitors typically comprise 7% of total visitation to the city, but account for 27% of spending. The 1.2 million international visitors in 2022 represent a 279% year-to-year increase, with top international markets including the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, India, France, Brazil, Mexico, China, South Korea, and Australia.

In 2022, visitors spent $8.1 billion—up 99% of 2019 levels. Taxes generated by visitor spending totaled a record $1.6 billion. In the same year, visitors supported a record 84,111 jobs, 71,197 of which are directly related to the tourism industry.

DDC’s new advertising campaign, “There’s Only One DC,” aims to sustain this positive momentum, emphasizing the city’s monuments, museums, and memorials as well as other cultural, arts, dining, and recreational destinations. The campaign officially launches Nov. 1.

“As we celebrate progress in bringing visitors back to DC, and the jobs and opportunities those visitors create, we are also excited to support Destination DC’s new ‘There’s Only One DC’ campaign,” says DC Mayor Muriel Bowser in a prepared statement. “It is true: there is only one place in the world like Washington, DC. Only one place where you can visit the White House during the day and then go to Ben’s Chili Bowl at night. Only one place where you can go to Cedar Hill and then to Sycamore & Oak in one trip. And only one place where you can take in the history of our nation while celebrating and enjoying the culture of the 700,000 Washingtonians who call DC home.”

According to DDC, there are approximately 149 hotels with 33,639 rooms in Washington, DC. The greater Washington Metropolitan Area is home to 772 hotels with 112,999 rooms. Some of the city’s major meeting and convention facilities include the 703,000-square-foot Walter E. Washington Convention Center, the 70,000-square-foot DC Armory National Guard Building, and the 65,000-square-foot Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.

washington.org

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