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Destination DC attracts international meetings, unveils new marketing campaign at IMEX America 

Washington DC

In a boost to its international positioning, Washington, DC joined the BestCities Global Alliance in September. DC is one of two U.S. cities part of the alliance, whose members include Berlin, Cape Town, Copenhagen. Dubai, Guadalajara, Houston, Madrid, Melbourne, Singapore, Tokyo and Vancouver. The membership will allow DDC to leverage connections, attract association meetings and share best practices.  

WASHINGTON, DC – Destination DC (DDC), the official destination marketing organization for Washington, DC, shared its ongoing commitment to attracting international groups at IMEX America.

“There’s no greater event than IMEX to connect with event organizers and highlight the benefits of meeting in Washington, DC,” said Elliott L. Ferguson, II, president and CEO, DDC. “Our investment in international MICE is important because of economics, as international travelers typically make up seven percent of visitation but 27% of spending.”  

 In alignment with international marketing efforts, DDC unveiled a new campaign called “There’s Only One DC.” It showcases everything that sets DC apart for visitors.

“The campaign was purposefully designed with all our audiences in mind, so it works for leisure travelers as well as the international MICE market,” said Robin A. McClain, chief marketing officer. “The visuals intentionally blend DC’s popular attractions with hidden gems to discover.” 

The message is also supported by DDC’s current “Connected Capital” sales positioning. The common goal is to share why a meeting will be successful in Washington, DC, from destination attractiveness to destination assets.

“Washington, DC is a Connected Capital that adds value for groups because of access to policymakers, impactful speakers and leaders in key industries, including technology, medical, biotech/pharma, technology, education and transportation,” said Melissa A. Riley, senior vice president, convention sales and services. “There’s no other city where attendees can tap into DC’s intellectual capital and benefit from the breadth of expertise here.” 

As of Oct. 1, DDC has bolstered its UK presence in the MICE sector by retaining AbleMaxx Ltd as its UK representative. The firm will leverage its deep expertise and relationships to proactively educate event planners about the benefits of hosting events in Washington, DC.

DC’s Convention Outlook

Meetings and events continue to play a critical role in the city’s recovery from the pandemic. In 2024, there are an estimated 510,806 total room nights stemming from convention center business, with an estimated 273,178 total room nights from non-convention center business. “To drive growth, we’re prioritizing large and small in-house meetings, as well as international meetings that make a global impact in Washington, DC,” said Riley.

International Visitation

In 2022, international visitation was 1.2 million, an increase of 297 percent over 2021. DC’s international markets are projected to rebound by 2025.​ The ease of getting to Washington, DC from cities around the world continues to be a draw.  Dulles International Airport serves 62 international destinations and Baltimore/Washington International serves 24 international outposts. In 2022, the new Metrorail Silver Line began connecting Dulles to downtown DC. The airport will add a LEED Silver-certified, $675 million 14-gate concourse in 2026.

Sustainability and Legacy

DDC is committed to sustainability and works with local industry and city partners on impactful initiatives. DDC is the first urban destination to have a staff member dedicated to sustainability. In September, the Sustainability District launched so meeting and event attendees can easily find sustainability initiatives at local hotels, restaurants and convention services. In September, DDC was given the Innovation Award and recognized for its DEI Business Fellowship program by the Global Destination Sustainability Movement. The Walter E. Washington Convention Center was certified LEED Gold.

New Hotels and Venues
  • There are 19 new hotels or renovations in the pipeline, adding over 3,506 new or renovated rooms.
  • The 234-room Washington Marriott Capitol Hill is just over one mile from the Convention Center and steps from Union Station, DC’s Amtrak hub. It features 13,000 sq. feet of intimate meeting space.
  • The modern, glass-façade Royal Sonesta Washington DC Capitol Hill (opened September 2023) has 274 large guest rooms, 11,000 sq. feet of event space including a penthouse conference center with a wraparound terrace, and an onsite French bistro. The hotel will be LEED Gold certified and includes a green-vegetated roof.
  • The new 445-room Arlo Hotel will incorporate a residential building constructed in the 1880s. Opening in 2024, the 445-room hotel will include a 12-story addition, a fitness center, a signature restaurant and bar, rooftop pool and lounge and indoor/outdoor event space.
  • Rebranded and renovated hotels include the Salamander Washington DC, the new Westin Downtown, the Marriott Metro Center and the Capital Hilton.
New Venues and Event Space:
  • The National Museum of Women in the Arts opens Oct. 21, 2023. The world’s only major museum solely dedicated to championing women artists completes a two-year, $67.5 million renovation of its historic building. The building’s Great Hall – a popular event venue with sweeping staircases and golden chandeliers – has been preserved.
  • The Capital Jewish Museum opened June 2023. It juxtaposes the story of Jewish Washington with exhibits on the American Jewish community’s history of activism and the struggle for civil rights and racial justice for all Americans.
  • The Folger Shakespeare Theater’s 1932 building is undergoing a major renovation to expand public space and improve accessibility. Opening in 2024, the project adds a 12,000-square-foot public pavilion under the Folger’s front lawn with two accessible entry plazas.
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Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.

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