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Inauguration, march hotel bookings picking up

In this Nov. 15, 2016 photo, inaugural preparations continue on the West Front of Capitol Hill in Washington, looking at the National Mall and Washington Monument. One thing you can count on during inauguration season in Washington: People of all stripes will find a reason to show up, whether it’s to celebrate or commiserate. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON — After a relatively slow start, hotel bookings around D.C. have been gaining steam ahead of the Jan. 20 presidential inauguration, according to the tourism group Destination DC.

“Traditionally we are accustomed to basically seeing a frenzy of reservations being made directly after the election, and that didn’t happen this year,” explained the group’s president and CEO Elliott Ferguson. 

“Now, hotels in the suburbs as well as hotels in the city are seeing rooms being picked up and a lot of the higher-end properties are selling out.”

Moving forward, the momentum is expected to continue, Ferguson said. About two weeks before the inauguration is when the most hotel-booking activity takes place.

“People are getting excited,” Ferguson said.

Not only are supporters of President-elect Donald Trump expected to fill hotels in the area, but people planning to protest against him will also show up in droves. The Gathering for Justice, also known as the Women’s March on Washington, has a permit for what is expected to be a massive rally and march the day after the inauguration. WTOP has confirmed organizers with the Gathering for Justice have a permit for a previously released location near the Capitol.

D.C. police confirm it approved the permit application for a rally at 3rd Street and Independence Avenue in Southwest on Jan. 21. Organizers have previously said they expect more than 100,000 participants and applied for a rally double the size.

“The march that’s anticipated to take place the next day has really resonated,” said Ferguson. “In some cases, hotels are seeing a sold out situation because of the two events. Not just exclusively because of the inauguration.”

For the last inauguration in 2013, hotels in D.C. had a 66.8 percent occupancy rate and an average room rate of $444 from Jan. 18-20, according to the hotel industry group STR. Over that same period, hotels in the D.C. area had a 64.1 percent occupancy rate and the average room rate was $232.

The numbers were way up for President Barack Obama’s first inauguration in 2009, when hotels in D.C. had a 96.8 percent occupancy rate with an average room rate of $602. Hotels in the metro area saw an 86 percent occupancy rate with an average room rate of $333.

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