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If you thought you saw more Segways than usual zipping by you on Pennsylvania Avenue last year, it wasn’t your imagination. In 2013, more than 17.4 million domestic tourists visited D.C., a 3.1 increase over 2013 and a record high, according to Destination D.C., the nonprofit responsible for the marketing of D.C.’s tourism and major conventions.
These D.C. tourists spent $6.7 billion, a bump of more than 8 percent over 2012. The numbers, according to Destination DC, were compiled by a travel research consulting firm that surveys tens of thousands of households across the United States each month. The figures do not include international tourists who visited D.C.
Destination D.C. announced the numbers during a tourism rally this morning at a new public park at downtown’s CityCenter development. At the rally, mayor Vince Gray called the numbers “staggering,” saying they helped to decrease the District’s unemployment rate.
Tourism is the second biggest industry in D.C.—-behind the federal government—-and, according to Destination D.C., the $6.7 billion the tourists spent supported nearly 76,000 jobs.
D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Nortin talked about the JOLT Act, which would modernize and expand the Visa Waiver Program to make it easier for more international visitors to travel, and spend money and create jobs, in the country.
Photo by Perry Stein