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by Sarah JF Braley | August 26, 2016

A record 21.3 million visitors strolled the streets of Washington, D.C., in 2015, up 5 percent over 2014, as revealed at the annual Marketing Outlook Meeting held by Destination DC, the city's destination management organization. 

Looking to 2017, there are 21 citywide conventions and events scheduled, indicating a strong year for the destination. DDC expects the gatherings to bring in $357 million for 484,649 room nights. Some of the groups coming to town are the American College of Cardiology (45,565 room nights in March), Microsoft (62,385 room nights in July) and the Society for Neuroscience (54,100 room nights in November). 

"The Convention Sales and Services team is doing a phenomenal job attracting business to the city in 2017 and beyond," said Elliott L. Ferguson, president and CEO of DDC. "Looking even further ahead, the team was able to book two citywides this year that will occur in 2018, a very unusual occurrence since most citywides are booked five years out and beyond. American Geophysical Union's fall meeting will bring 45,440 total room nights, and True Value's spring reunion will bring 12,880 total room nights."

Washington, D.C.'s 2015 record visitation year includes just over 2 million overseas visitors and 19.3 million domestic visitors, up almost 8 percent over 2014. More than 300,000 Chinese travelers came to the city last year, a 36 percent increase over the previous year, and almost 12 percent of all Chinese visitors to the U.S. Visitor spending was $7.1 billion, up 4 percent, and business travelers accounted for 62 percent of those dollars, according to IHS Global Inc. 

"Destination DC had another remarkable year attracting visitors, creating a huge boon for our local businesses and economy," stated Mayor Muriel E. Bowser in a release from DDC. "Most importantly, tourism directly supports over 74,000 jobs here at home, leaving a positive impact on our community and creating pathways to the middle class for thousands of District residents. With vibrant neighborhoods, iconic museums and monuments, and a world-class restaurant scene, I look forward to another banner year for tourism in the nation's capital."

Almost $10 billion in development is under way in Washington, including the Wharf, a 24-acre, $2 billion project on the Southwest Waterfront, and nearly 4,500 hotel rooms are in the pipeline. Opening next month are the Smithsonian Institution's new National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the National Gallery of Art's renovated East Building.