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D.C. Officials Investing in Local Businesses Prepare for Fall Tourism

Destination DC, the official marketing organization for Washington, D.C., has recently released new projections for an anticipated increase in tourism that is nearing pre-pandemic levels, giving hope to local businesses and inspiring locals to get back out and enjoy the city.

Destination DC President Elliot Ferguson speaks at annual Marketing Outlook Meeting, Courtesy of: Washington.org

Destination DC, the official marketing organization for Washington, D.C., has recently released new projections for an anticipated increase in tourism that is nearing pre-pandemic levels, giving hope to local businesses and inspiring locals to get back out and enjoy the city.

Upcoming events include Movies on the Potomac at National Harbor which is returning Oct. 24 with “Hocus Pocus” and “Goosebumps” on Oct. 31. Grammy Award winning R&B artist, H.E.R, will be live in concert at The Anthem on Oct. 25 for her “Back of My Mind” exclusive 8-city tour. 

President and CEO of Destination DC Elliott L. Ferguson spoke at Navy Yard to an audience of tourism and hospitality professionals at the annual Market Outlook Meeting to discuss the city’s plan to accommodate the influx of visitors and how they are focused on supporting local businesses.

“As a short-term economic development organization, all of our efforts focus on tourism recovery to positively impact visitor spending and local tax revenue, as well as local businesses and jobs,” Ferguson said. 

Mayor Muriel Bowser has not only been vocal about her excitement for the return of D.C. tourism, but gave Destination DC an additional $5 million to be spent in support of nightclubs, restaurants, sports arenas and other attractions. After Ferguson reported an estimated loss of $6.6 billion from March 2020 to April 2021 due to the major decline in visitor spending from the pandemic, Mayor Bowser made sure the organization had additional financial support to ensure that local businesses are prepared to capture every dollar that comes into the city. 

“One day at a time, we are finding a new normal that works for Washington, D.C. In doing so, we are going to be able to bring back jobs, welcome back visitors and give more people a fantastic D.C. experience,” Bowser said.

Small businesses have been hit hard by the economic stagnancy of the pandemic and the decreased budgets they have to work with for advertising some of their most profitable events. As many of these venues prepare for guests, they are still struggling to find workers to support the upcoming boom. 

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The Washington Business Journal notes, “While small businesses are largely positive about the regional and national economies, they face challenges. Finding qualified workers was cited by 33% of respondents as the biggest barrier to growing a business, up from 15% a year ago.”

Companies have been offering different incentives to attract workers, but as the summer went,  many business owners lost hope of restoring their workforce. The Washington Post applauded D.C. for their efforts in rebuilding a social scene that resembles that of pre-pandemic years, but  it has still not met the Mayor’s original plans of having the city back on track by July 4. 

“Office vacancies hit record highs, dozens of restaurants remain closed, and less than 25 percent of employees had returned to their downtown buildings by mid-September — up less than 2 percent from July. In a telltale sign of hard times in downtown Washington, it is difficult to find a shop open for coffee after 4 p.m.,” The Post said.

This fall venues across the D.M.V. will begin to facilitate in-person conventions while complying with the evolving health standards of the CDC to ensure that travelers are safe. The Association of the U.S. Army, Association of Financial Professionals, and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association are the largest groups holding conventions in these upcoming months. The city estimates this could have an economic impact upwards of $20 million.

Copy edited by Jasper Smith

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