Destination DC president and CEO Elliott Ferguson said that his organization, the Mayor and the local hotel and restaurant associations are working hard to ensure D.C. can safely return to a tourist destination, after taking precautions by dissuading visitors for the inauguration. (Screenshot)

By Micha Green
AFRO D.C. Editor
mgreen@afro.com

While District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser is encouraging Washingtonians to stay at home and for out of town guests to remain in their locales for the historic inauguration on Jan. 20, she also emphasized that the nation’s capital will go back to being a hot spot for tourists who wish to safely vacation once the fire from the pandemic and insurrection at the Capitol in early January cools off a bit.

It’s an unusual position to be in as a Mayor, to invite people not to come to your city right now- and it’s not something I say lightly at all,” Bowser said at a press conference the day before the inauguration. “But I want everybody to know, all of our visitors, hotels, restaurants and everybody who loves Washington like we do, to know that Destination DC is planning to make your next trip your most special trip.”

“I’ve been living in Washington for 19 years. I moved here right after 9/11, so I’ve dealt with and promoted Washington in a lot of instances where perhaps the global community might say, ‘Maybe I won’t come to Washington,’ because of something that’s happening in the city, such as 9/11 and all the other things we’ve dealt with,” said President and CEO of Destination DC Elliott Ferguson.

Safety precautions required city leadership to dissuade anyone from traveling to D.C. for the inauguration- a decision that could result in an economic hit for the nation’s capital, but a preventive measure for the Capitol, other important locations and American democracy.

“One thing we know is that every four years we normally see an economic impact of a billion dollars tied to individuals coming to D.C. for the inauguration and that’s not going to happen this year.  We’re happy that we have the 25,000 troops in the city to keep us safe,” Ferguson explained. 

Despite precautionary actions now, Ferguson said that Destination DC encourages Americans visiting the nation’s capital to exercise their Constitutional right to protest.

 “We love the fact that people come to Washington to exercise their First Amendment right.  As a matter of fact, protest tourism is something in which we’re focusing on thanks to the Mayor, Black Lives Matter Plaza and all those other things that are tied to our city,” Ferguson said.

According to Bowser and Ferguson, the Mayor’s administration and Destination DC are 

working with Events DC and the hotel and restaurant associations to ensure that guests can safely visit the city and that the economy and establishments will benefit from the tourism.

“So even though the message is tied to not coming to Washington right now, we want to make sure individuals understand the importance of coming back to Washington as a destination,” Ferguson said. 

“Monuments, memorials and federal museums…are only part of the reason we want folks to visit.  Our neighborhoods amazing, the history, the architecture… all of the events and activities, sporting events, nightlife, our great restaurants… these are the things that we promote on a regular basis,” Ferguson excitedly illustrated.  “So at the proper time, because we still have to focus on a pandemic, that’s affecting the international industry, we will be focusing on bringing folks back to Washington.  We know that over 50 million people live within 250 miles of Washington, D.C., so we’re going to focus on all those amazing things…and we’re also going to talk about all the ways in which you can enjoy Washington and still socially distance while visiting our neighborhoods- and how safe Washington is, even though the perception may be of concern to those who are looking.”

 

Micha Green

AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor