- Visitors spent more than $2.8 billion in Arlington in 2013
- Spending was highest ever, but year-over-year growth continues decline
- Arlington Chamber, hoteliers call again for more marketing
ARLINGTON, Va. — Visitors spent more money in Arlington in 2013 than ever before, and more money here than in any other County in the Commonwealth, according to data released by the United States Travel Association (USTA). The $2.8 billion in travel spending supported more than 24,000 jobs, and provided more than $94 million in state taxes and $78 million in local taxes.
All data was received by the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) from USTA, and is based on domestic visitor spending (travelers from within the United States) from per person trips taken 50 miles or more away from home.
“It is great news that visitor spending increased in 2013, especially in light of the challenges our hospitality businesses faced,” said Emily Cassell, director of the Arlington Convention and Visitors Service (ACVS). “Federal travel cuts, the shutdown and the sequester had a terrible impact on our hotels.”
Although Arlington visitor spending in 2013 was higher than ever, the rate of year-over-year growth declined, continuing a trend that began in 2010. The year-over-year rate of growth has declined from 7.6 percent for 2010/2011, to 3.9 percent for 2011/2012, to just 1.9 percent for 2012/2013.
“It's imperative for Arlington's hotels, restaurants and stores that the County compete aggressively with other destinations that are being considered by meeting planners and travelers in general,” said Dori Familiant, chair of the Arlington Chamber Hotel General Managers Committee and general manager of the DoubleTree by Hilton – Crystal City. “We need to fortify Arlington's existing marketing program to make sure that its reach expands, and that it's not just making up for recent losses.”
2012 was the first year since 1991 that Arlington was not legislatively authorized to collect a ¼-cent guest surcharge dedicated to tourism promotion. As a result, the County's destination marketing organization is operating at less than half of its FY 2011 budget. Responding to hospitality community concerns, the Arlington County Board added a strategic investment of $200,000 in one-time funds for FY 2015 tourism marketing.