Tourism skid expected in DC due to coronavirus

DC’s travel and tourism industry is expected to feel the pinch from travel reductions caused by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

Due to outbreak of the novel coronavirus, D.C.’s travel and tourism industry is expected to feel the pinch from travel reductions.

Spring is a busy time when tourists flock to the nation’s capital, and while visitors from other states make up the majority of D.C. tourists, the District is preparing for a decline in the number of international visitors.

“As an industry we anticipate there being a loss, associated with a lack of travel because of concerns … we know for a fact that the largest market for Washington DC, the market that stays longer and spends more would be the Chinese and unfortunately they’re not traveling right now. They don’t have a choice and so you can’t expect things to happen when you know they cannot physically fly out of that country,” said Elliot Ferguson, president and CEO of Destination DC, the private, nonprofit corporation that manages and markets the city as a travel, tourist and convention destination.

While no upcoming conventions have been canceled, there have been hotel room cancellations from people who planned to travel from China and other nations where travel has been reduced because of the virus outbreak.

“There’s a convention coming up soon [March 18] — the International Association for Dental Research. We know that 700 of their attendees are from China. We know that those individuals will not be traveling,” Ferguson said.

D.C.’s tourism industry has faced challenges in the past from major incidents that slowed visits to the area, including the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack and the anthrax attacks which occurred in the following months that year.

Tourism officials say it’s reasonable to assume the city will host fewer visitors from nations currently restricting travel, but the situation is being monitored and efforts could be made to draw visitors from other places.

“We’re optimistic that we’ll weather the storm,” Ferguson said.

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