Campaign Says Visiting D.C. is a Capital Idea

NEW YORK — In an effort to soften the blow being felt by its tourist industry, Washington, D.C. has undertaken a multi-faceted ad and promotion campaign targeting local and nearby residents. The $4 million effort, from the Washington Convention and Tourism Corp. (WCTC), the official tourism promotion agency for the District of Columbia, is using print, TV and radio ads, seasonal celebrations, shopping sales and hotel promotions under the tag, “Holiday Homecoming.”

The hospitality industry is D.C.’s second largest single industry after government. Since Sept. 11, about 17,000 local and area hotel and industry-related employees have been put out of work due to low occupancy levels, according to the WCTC.

The WCTC has rebranded its latest advertising and marketing efforts away from traditionally targeted out-of-town visitors, which long have been the area’s key traveler demographic, to concentrate on local and drive-time residents “who may have been avoiding the downtown area.”

This past weekend, the WCTC and the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington co-sponsored a promotion in which 110 restaurants offered below-price three-course lunches and dinners. In October, the WCTC ran a $200,000 ad campaign to promote a weekend of free Metro service. Through year’s end, the WCTC is encouraging stores, museums and restaurants to offer promotions and discounts “to make D.C. an attractive destination for locals.” A national and international campaign is being planned for 2002.

“The objective [is] to raise the bar of visitation, just move the needle a little,” said WCTC spokeswoman Vicki Isley.