Destination DC Announces Record Domestic Visitation and Visitor Spend in 2016

(Washington, DC) – Travel and hospitality leadership in Washington, DC today announced that the nation’s capital received 20.0 million domestic visitors in 2016, an increase of 3.6% over 2015 according to a DK SHIFFLET report. The seventh consecutive record-breaking year for domestic visitation earned a record high visitor spend of $7.3 billion, according to IHS Markit, a year-over-year increase of 2.8%. Travel and tourism sustains more than 74,654 jobs in DC.

The briefing occurred at Destination DC’s (DDC) Travel Rally at the National Building Museum. Themed “Faces of Travel,” the ninth annual assembly coincides with the U.S. Travel Association’s National Travel and Tourism Week (May 7-13, 2017) that champions the economic impact of the industry on the economy.

“In 2016, Washington, DC welcomed 700,000 more domestic visitors than we did in 2015,” said Elliott L. Ferguson, president and CEO of DDC, the official destination marketing organization for the District. “These numbers articulate the national appetite for new and enduring tourism inventory in the District as well as DDC’s ability to capture consumers on multiple platforms.”

“Every visitor to the District of Columbia plays a vital role in spreading inclusive prosperity throughout the local economy by staying in our hotels, dining in our restaurants, visiting our attractions and shopping in our stores,” said Muriel E. Bowser, Mayor of the District of Columbia. “Congratulations to Destination DC on another banner year for tourism and helping to make DC’s economy one of the strongest local economies in the country."

2016 marks the second time that visitor spending in Washington, DC surpassed $7 billion. Spending on accommodations grew 4.0% over 2015. Retail spending grew 1.6%. Spending on dining was up 2.7% and entertainment 3.4%.

“DDC keeps the District at the forefront of travel consumers’ top ten U.S. destinations,” said Robin McClain, vice president, marketing and communications. “The return on investment study that DDC commissioned from Destination Analysts shows that our city received $2.97 in taxes for every $1 we spent.”

"DDC does a phenomenal job of promoting everything DC has to offer. Their hard work pays off for both visitors and residents of the city," said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. "Elliott Ferguson and his team embody the welcoming spirit of our industry that we're celebrating this week. We are proud to partner with them this year to host IPW, the largest international travel trade conference in America, right here in DC."

Between June 3-7, 2017, IPW will welcome 6,000 travel trade buyers, reporters and national destination experts. As the host city, Washington, DC can expect to receive an additional one million international visitors in the three years following the convention, according to Rockport Analytics, adding $1.7 billion in economic impact and $94 million in local taxes.

“There is no greater opportunity to frame Washington, DC as a must-experience city than IPW 2017,” said Ferguson. “We look forward to engaging peers and global travel experts in the DC Cool experience.”

Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority President and CEO Jack Potter noted that a large number of visitors to the National Capital Region arrive through Washington’s two major airports, Reagan National and Dulles International, which he called “the Washington region’s gateway to the world and the world’s gateway to Washington.”

“Our airports provide connections to more than 200 destinations across the country and around the world,” Potter said. “And a significant number of them are tourists who have a major positive impact on our regional economy, which is why the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is a major sponsor of IPW, an event we have attended through the years to promote all there is to see and do in the National Capital Region.”

DDC delivered DC Cool creative for the summer travel season on May 1, 2017. For the third year, a television commercial was produced in-house to air in key feeder markets. Dynamic digital and traditional print campaigns round out the buy.

“We relaunched our website in 2015 to emphasize the charms of DC’s neighborhoods,” said Ferguson. “In one year, washington.org earned a record 7.6 million unique visits and a 31.3 million pageviews.”

“Of DC’s 20.0 million domestic visitors, 8.4 million were business travelers, up 1.3% over 2015. To encourage momentum, we’re identifying opportunities for innovation to differentiate our city from global competition as well as driving our key projects including Entertainment and Sports Arena in Congress Heights, the RFK Campus and reactivating the Walter E. Washington Convention Center streetscape,” said Gregory A. O’Dell, president and CEO of Events DC.

In 2017, Washington, DC will host 21 citywide conventions with an estimated economic impact of $340 million, including Microsoft, the American College of Cardiology, and for the first time, Otakon. In 2018, the District will host 20 citywide conventions including True Value Company, another first-time group.

About Destination DC: Destination DC, the official destination marketing organization for the nation’s capital, is a private, non-profit membership organization of 900 businesses committed to marketing the area as a premier global convention, tourism and special events destination with a special emphasis on the arts, cultural and historic communities. washington.org.