New data has revealed that Aussie tourism numbers to Washington, DC grew by 11 per cent in the past year.
Plus one out of 15 Aussie visitors to the US travelled to DC in 2017, placing us in the top six international arrivals markets.
To keep the momentum going, Elliott L. Ferguson, II, President and CEO of Destination DC and a delegation of representatives visited Australia earlier this month for a week-long sales and media mission, promoting Washington DC.
The group met with a whopping 250 travel trade contacts and media across a very busy five days in three different cities – Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.
The destination is set to welcome a huge 21 new hotels soon, adding 4,764 rooms to the city, no doubt so they can make room for more Aussies.
New attractions, renovations and exhibits are also a draw, including the National Law Enforcement Museum, opening on 13 October this year and citywide programming in 2019 surrounding the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.
Plus the International Spy Museum and The Washington Monument are set to reopen next autumn and June 2019 respectively.
If you can think of an attraction cooler than a spy museum then we’d like to hear about it.
To find out more about why your clients should add DC to their US trips, we caught up with Ferguson during his visit to Sydney to bring you this exclusive Q&A.
Travel Weekly: Why do you think more Aussies visiting the states are choosing Washington DC?
Elliott L. Ferguson, II: I think Aussies have a great appreciation for American history so the monuments and memorials are the initial draw; however, they soon realize how much else there is to see and do outside of that.
We’re seeing Aussies stay longer for the incredible museums, nightlife, theatre, dining and outdoor activities.
TW: Do you think the current political climate in the US has affected visitor numbers?
EF: In 2017, we saw the 8th year of record visitation with 20.8 domestic visitors and 2 million overseas visitors. We welcomed 90,000 Australian visitors, up 11.1 per cent over 2016.
TW: What would you tell potential visitors who are concerned about this?
EF: We continue to message that DC welcomes all visitors.
Politics are separate from the Washington, DC that we promote: the outstanding attractions, hotels, dining, theatre, music, arts and culture, nightlife, shopping, festivals and special events throughout our neighbourhoods.
We continue to work with organizations like Brand USA to promote international tourism and U.S. Travel, to address policy issues affecting travel.
TW: What’s big in Washington DC at the moment?
EF: We want to encourage people to “Discover The Real DC” and experience all that our destination has to offer.
There is so much development going on the District including additional restaurants, more hotels in historic neighbourhoods as well as more museums and festivals.
TW: If you had to narrow it down, what would you say are the top three reasons Aussies should pay a visit to Washington DC?
EF: We have some of the best museums in the world. We have an incredible dining scene validated by Michelin Guide. We have historic neighbourhoods filled with arts and culture.