Record Tourism in 2015: Over 2 Million Foreign Visitors Travelled to D.C.

People use a 'selfie stick' as they photograph themselves in front of cherry trees as they blossom around the Tidal Basin on the National Mall in Washington, DC, April 11, 2015. The cherry blossoms, originally a gift from Japan, reached their peak bloom yesterday. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo …
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Over 2 million foreign visitors travelled to the nation’s capitol last year, the highest level of foreign travel to the Washington D.C. area to date, according to the city’s tourism marketing bureau.

Destination DC (DCC) announced Wednesday that not only did the level of international travel to D.C. break records but so did the record 21.3 million total visitors to the U.S. capital city in 2015, up five percent over 2014.

“We’re thrilled with another record visitation year, welcoming just over 2 million overseas visitors for the first time along with the 19.3 million domestic visitors,” DDC president and CEO Elliott L. Ferguson said in a statement, noting that the tourists spent $7.1 billion while in town.

International tourism to Washington D.C. (excluding from Mexico and Canada) was 7.8 percent higher than it was in 2014, driven mostly by travel from China. According to DCC, 300,000 Chinese visitors traveled to D.C. last year, 36 percent higher than the year prior. Of all Chinese travel to the U.S., 11.6 percent of Chinese visitors ended up in D.C., 10.1 percent higher than in 2014.

DCC said it plans to launch a Chinese-focused program in September called, “Welcome China,” to further aid Chinese visitors and D.C. businesses.

While visitors from China were the most plentiful, there were other sources of international travel in 2015. The top foreign markets for international travel to D.C. besides China were, according to DCC, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, France, India, South Korea, Brazil, Italy, and Japan.

Interestingly, while foreign visitors consisted of 9 percent of the total tourism (including from Mexico and Canada), they represented 27 percent of tourist spending, DCC said.

The destination marketing outfit argues that 2017 will be another banner year for tourism to the nation’s capitol with 21 conventions and events already on the calendar for the coming year.

“Citywide conventions are meetings that bring 2,500 room nights or more on peak to Washington, DC. The total economic impact for these meetings is $357 million with 484,649 total room nights,” DCC said in a release.


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