WASHINGTON -- The
convention center here has only been open for a little more than
two years, but it is already having a major positive impact on the
capital citys tourism industry, tourism officials here said.
Convention & Tourism Corp. said the convention center has
helped boost hotel occupancy and contributed to tourism recovery
that brought 18.75 million visitors to Washington in 2004, as
business and leisure travel grew by 6.3% and 9.8%,
Thats still below
the 19.2 million mark achieved in 1998, but officials are bullish,
particularly about the robust hotel market, which reported a 76%
occupancy rate in the first six months of 2005, beating the
the corporations president and CEO, said Washington is ahead of
several major cities in terms of occupancy and average daily
according to Smith Travel Research data, Washingtons occupancy
average outpaced several major cities, including Philadelphia
(70%), Chicago (61%) and Boston (61.7%). However, New Yorks
occupancy average of 84.1% edged out Washingtons.
At the same time,
Washingtons average daily rate for the past six months was $183.94,
beating the national average of $90.45 and topping every major city
except New York, which had an average rate of $191.42.
Hanbury said a key factor
in the rise in both occupancy and rates is Washingtons growing
business and convention market.
Of the 5.8
million business visitors we hosted in 2004, 2.2 million cited
either a convention or a seminar as the reason for traveling to
Washington, D.C., he said.
That is in
comparison to 1.9 million in 2003 when the new, 2.3 million-square
foot convention center opened and replaced the old 800,000-square
By the end of the
year, meetings and conventions will generate over 1 million hotel
room nights, Hanbury said, and $705 million in direct spending from
attendees. The convention center investment has paid off and
brought tremendous value to the community.
Convention Center Authoritys board of directors has approved a plan
to expand the facilitys meetings and ballroom capacity by another
75,000 square feet.
saw an uptick in the number of international visitors.
The U.S. Commerce
Departments Tourism Industries, International Trade Administration
reports the number of international travelers visiting Washington
rose 22% in 2004 to just over 1 million.
travel market, which reached a high of 1.4 million visitors in
2000, had fallen off after 9/11.
We still have
work to do there, Hanbury said. We were in a very, very deep
trough, but we have steadily climbed our way out of it, but we are
still not all the way back.
that it might be some time before the international market
Some of that
relates to [U.S.] visa policies and our welcoming initiatives at
our borders [that have] not been too spectacular, he said. That has
caused damage to the national travel economy from an international
statistics, which were partly compiled by the Travel Industry
Association, show at least 25% of Washingtons visitors hailed from
New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Los Angeles.
reporter Michael Milligan, send e-mail to [email protected].