DC tourism hits record 20.8M domestic visitors in 2017

WASHINGTON — Last year was a record year for tourism in the District, with 20.8 million domestic visitors to the District, who spent more than $7.5 billion.

Destination DC, the District’s tourism arm, will announce international visitors later this spring.

The number of domestic tourists visiting the District last year was up 4.2 percent from 2016.

Visitor spending topped $7.5 billion for the third time and grew 6.5 percent on accommodations, 4.2 percent on food and 1.2 percent on transportation.

Leisure spending was up 5.9 percent and business spending was up 1.3 percent.

Tourism is a significant part of D.C.’s employment base and directly accounted for more than 75,000 jobs in the District last year, surpassing 75,000 for the first time since 2013.

“This increase in tourism means more jobs and resources for our residents and neighborhoods and has helped ensure that our local economy remains one of the strongest in the nation,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser at an event at The Wharf announcing the 2017 tourism numbers Wednesday morning.

This year will be another busy year for D.C. tourism.

The District hosts 21 citywide meetings, which are events that take up 2,500 hotel rooms at peak and above, generating almost 433,000 room nights and an economic impact of $378 million for 2018.

Top conventions this year include World Conference of the International Gas Union in June, Infor’s “Inforum” in September and American Geophysical Union’s fall meeting in December.

The District’s hotel industry is expanding to keep up. There are 15 hotels in the pipeline, including new builds, renovations and re-openings.

Destination DC has its largest advertising campaign ever this year to promote summer travel, which debuted this month in New York, Philadelphia, Richmond, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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