by Sarah J.F. Braley | May 10, 2018
Destination DC, the U.S. capital's destination marketing organization, said 20.8 million domestic visitors came to D.C. in 2017, up 4.2 percent over 2016. The number was compiled by DK Shifflet, a travel-and-tourism research company. This was the eighth consecutive record-breaking year for the city, according to Elliott L. Ferguson II, president and CEO of the DDC.

"Destination DC is an economic development organization," Ferguson said during Travel Rally, a celebration of the tourism industry's importance to the city. "Our marketing and sales efforts are aimed at bringing more business and leisure visitors to the nation's capital, who spend nights in our hotels, dine out, and take advantage of D.C.'s incredible nightlife and world-class attractions on the National Mall and throughout D.C.'s neighborhoods."

According to IHS Markit, a data and information services firm, visitors spent $7.5 billion in 2017, up 3.1 percent from 2016, from both domestic and international travelers. Spending topped $7 billion for the third time and grew 6.5 percent on accommodations, 4.2 percent on food and 1.2 percent on transportation. Leisure spending increased by 5.9 percent and business spending was up 1.3 percent. Visitors helped sustain 75,048 D.C. jobs in 2017, surpassing 75,000 for the first time since 2013.

"Washington, D.C., is a city that has something for everyone -- from world-class museums to sports and theater to internationally-acclaimed restaurants and music -- and people from across the country and around the world continue to recognize all we have to offer," said Mayor Muriel Bowser during the Travel Rally. "This increase in tourism means more jobs and resources for our residents and neighborhoods, and has helped ensure that our local economy remains one of the strongest in the nation."

Plenty of construction is taking place in the city on new attractions, restaurants and hotels. Fifteen hotels totaling 3,427 rooms are in the pipeline, including new builds, renovations and reopenings. Among them are the Hilton Washington DC National Mall and the Eaton Workshop Hotel, debuting this summer; and a dual-branded Courtyard by Marriott and Residence Inn near the Walter E. Washington Convention Center coming fall. In 2018, D.C. will host 21 citywide meetings (2,500 rooms on peak and above), generating 432,915 room nights and an economic impact of $378 million, including the World Conference of the International Gas Union (June 25-29), Infor's "Inforum" (Sept. 25-26) and American Geophysical Union's Fall Meeting (Dec. 10-14).