Destination DC Generates Revenue and Jobs

Bill Reed | 11/2/2010, 8:52 p.m.
Second only to the Federal government, the District of Columbia's most important source...
Elliott Ferguson, President and CEO of Destination D.C.,sits at the helm of the lead organization that manages and markets Washington, D.C. as a premiere destination Courtesy Photo

Second only to the Federal government, the District of Columbia's most important source of revenue is the tourism industry, and that's the point Elliott Ferguson will make to anyone who will listen.

As President and CEO of Destination DC, Ferguson sits at the helm of the lead organization that manages and markets Washington, D.C. as a premiere destination that can easily boasts the world's largest museum complex, the largest library on the planet, a host of monuments and memorials, plus a 446 acre garden that attracts approximately 525,000 visitors annually along with a bevy of five star hotels and restaurants. Ferguson's message resonates across the globe.

He can speak definitively about the unique federal district that sits roughly half way down the Atlantic coast of North America, at the junction of the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers. Billed as "a world-class city" Washington, D.C., is the federal capital of the United States and the focal point of a metropolis with a population of 3.75 million that also includes five counties in Maryland and five in Virginia.

Destination DC markets the Washington Metropolitan Area to meeting planners and leisure travelers across the world as a "premier global convention, tourism and special events destination" with an emphasis on the area's arts, cultural and historical communities that include Washington's Black Broadway along the bustling U Street corridor and the former stomping grounds of the late African-American composer Duke Ellington. There's also the Mary McLeod Bethune Council House in Northwest and the Frederick Douglass House on Cedar Hill in Southeast.

The private, non-profit corporation in Northwest with a membership of 850 businesses and organizations that support Washington's convention and tourism industry, Ferguson says "Destination DC generates billions of dollars in economic benefits for people and businesses in the District of Columbia." Formerly known as the Washington Convention & Tourism Corporation, the organization's moniker changed two years ago to reflect the
District's distinctive attributes.

Washington, D.C. holds the title of being "the world's most important city" and welcomes 16 million visitors each year, including more than 1 million international visitors. Destination DC efforts in the convention and tourism industry maintains Washington's stellar ranking as a "world-class" destination. The organization's 60-staff members' efforts generate more than $5.2 billion a year in visitor spending and support more than 66,000 full-time convention and tourism jobs in the District.

Ferguson says District residents may not recognize tourism's intrinsic value to the city. Destination DC generates economic development for the city through tourism and conventions.

It's a demanding job but well worth the effort, Ferguson says.

"For example, it can take many years of hard work to book one meeting or event. This summer we hosted the Microsoft Worldwide Partner conference. It took us 6 years to secure that event, but it brought in more than $15 million in delegate spending over just 3 days."

A 20-year veteran in the tourism and hospitality business, Ferguson says that meetings and tourism are vital to the District's economy.

The Washington DC area is an attraction for many people of color Courtesy Photo
"There is no question that D.C. is better off financially thanks to Destination DC and our partners."

"When we book meetings and conventions and special events and attract leisure travelers, we are bringing in new tax dollars and business opportunities for people in the District," Ferguson says.

Ferguson hopes area residents along with visitors from across the country converge upon Washington next year to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the presidency of Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation. He says that the organization intends to vigorously market upcoming events in the District.

"Destination DC will be promoting the opening of new attractions in the city that include the National Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the African American Civil War Memorial & Museum and, in 2015, the National Museum of African American History and Culture."

Washington, D.C. -- the seat of the government happens to attract people of color -- the District of Columbia has a long and storied past, Ferguson says.

"A lot of our sales efforts focus on attracting diversity groups. We've hosted many prominent predominantly African-American gatherings, including the centennial celebration for the National Urban League this past summer and the Congressional Black Caucus each year," Ferguson says.

"We are also working with Delta Sigma Theta, which will host its centennial convention in D.C. in 2013."

A resident of Ward 6, Ferguson wants District residents and others to know that Destination DC can also accommodate their requests for special events.

"Destination DC is also a resource for the local community. Residents can call on us for assistance with planning for family reunions, visiting friends and families, weddings, as well as meetings and conventions."

For more information on Destination DC please visit: http://destinationdc.com