Destination DC Focuses on Recovery

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Washington, D.C.’s destination marketing organization gets additional funding with an eye on post-Covid pandemic recovery. 

At the beginning of the year, the Council of the District of Columbia approved Tourism Recovery District legislation that is a temporary 1 percent increase in the hotel tax that will go to Destination DC (DDC), the official destination marketing organization for Washington, DC. It will be used to market the destination and raise more than $20 million per year for four years. The temporary fee will make DC’s tax rate 15.95 percent from April 2023 through March 2027.

“As we compete globally with every other destination trying to regain market share, these dollars will give us the wherewithal to remain equally as competitive and enhance our marketing and sales efforts to draw meetings and events that leave a lasting impact on the local economy,” said Elliott L. Ferguson, II, president and CEO, DDC. 

Meetings and events continue to play a critical role in the city’s recovery from the pandemic, and things are looking up this year as the city is planning to welcome 18 citywide conventions (defined as meetings, bringing 2,500 room nights to the city on peak), with an estimated 363,863 room nights, this year. Ferguson shared that recovery will continue over the next 36 months. 

“There’s no place like Washington, DC, to leverage intellectual capital and access leaders and policymakers,” said Melissa A. Riley, senior vice president of convention sales and services. “Between investment in sustainability and growing startups, the city continues to be a leader in innovation. It’s also dedicated to progress, diversity and inclusivity and has long been a place for people to put their power of free speech to work, where impactful demonstrations have shaped the future of the United States. Washington, DC is the country’s original meeting center to make positive social change.”

Promotions Abound

Promotions were just announced at DDC, including Riley’s from VP to senior VP. In addition, Robin A. McClain was promoted to chief marketing officer, and Theresa Belpulsi to senior vice president of tourism, sports, and visitor services. Additionally, Rico Ashab has been promoted to chief of staff to Elliott L. Ferguson, II, president and CEO of DDC. 

“You’re only as good as your team, and I clearly have a deep bench of leaders that have seen our organization through many ups and downs, ” said Ferguson. “As DDC comes into additional funding for marketing and sales through new Tourism Recovery District legislation, they each oversee critical aspects of our strategic recovery, as well as supporting the executive office. I appreciate them all personally and professionally, and I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish together as we get tourism back on track.”

Photo credit: Casey Horner / Unsplash