The nation’s capital chalked up its best year yet for tourism in 2016.The National Museum of African American History and Culture, a lively presidential election, and some 15 citywide conventions were among the causes behind the boost in last year's tourism. The District reported that 20 million people from across the United States visited D.C. last year and spent about $7.3 billion -- a 3.6 percent improvement over 2015 that tops off a seven-year climb for tourism in the city. The report came from data analyzed by the travel research firm D.K. Shifflet & Associates. With 21 citywide conventions booked for 2017, D.C. has also hosted a Big Ten basketball tournament and will benefit from a full year of operation of the Smithsonian’s new $540 million African American Museum. The museum welcomed 1,211,563 visitors in its first six months after opening last September. It is among the four most popular Smithsonian museums.
The amount of money spent at hotels, restaurants, stores, and entertainment venues has also jumped. The increase in foot traffic could be partially responsible for what was seen as a strong year for job creation in the District last year. Unemployment rates edged down and the pace of job growth last year consistently outstripped the nation as a whole.
You’re talking about jobs that did not exist that are being created,” said Elliott Ferguson, president and chief executive at Destination D.C.[caption id="attachment_3615" align="aligncenter" width="300"] The Walter E. Washington Convention Center is a 2.3-million-square-foot ideal meeting space.[/caption] Michelin released its first travel guide for Washington in October, and 11 restaurants in the city earned stars. The Inn at Little Washington in the rural town of Washington, Virginia, also earned a high rating.
While New York has reduced its international visitor projection for 2017, Washington, D.C., is expected to have a record year for visitors."Every visitor to the District of Columbia plays a vital role in sustaining our local economy," Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a statement. "Congratulations to Destination D.C. on another banner year for tourism."