Arlington tourism spending sets a record

Arlington County’s tourism industry, including hotels and hospitality, was one of the hardest hit in Virginia during the pandemic. Although Arlington tourism has not yet bounced back to pre-pandemic visitation levels, visitor spending set a record in 2023.

The Arlington Convention and Visitors Service reported visitor spending reached $4.5 billion in 2023, spent on everything from transportation, to food and beverage, lodging, recreation and retail. The majority of that spending was on transportation, including airfare. Of the total, $810 million was spent on food and beverage, and $552 million was spent on lodging.

It was a 16% increase in visitor spending, and the third consecutive year of double-digit growth.

Tourism supported 27,600 jobs in Arlington County last year, and generated $341 million in state and local tax revenue.

The report, prepared for the county by Tourism Economics, said Arlington County saw 7.1 million visitors last year, an increase of 600,000. It remains shy of the 8 million visitors recorded in 2019.

“This study marks a major turning point for Arlington and its hospitality business. Reaching record visitor spending after the challenges of the pandemic is a great accomplishment and a bright sign for the future,” said Libby Garvey, chair of the Arlington County Board.

Arlington County launched a new tourism marketing campaign last year named “All In Arlington,” as its new brand. The county estimates the new marketing efforts were responsible for nearly 82,000 visitors who spent $29 million.

Arlington County’s full 2023 economic impact tourism report is online.

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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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