**FILE** Robert R. Roberts/The Washington Informer)

D.C. officials have unveiled an initiative to revive the city’s tourism industry, which has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic over the past two years.

Mayor Muriel Bowser and Destination DC CEO Elliott L. Ferguson II, in concert with local and national partners, talked about bringing tourists back to the city at a rally Wednesday at Union Market in Northeast.

“D.C. tourism industry recovery is underway, as domestic visitation outpaced our initial forecast, but visitor spending and jobs created through tourism are not recovering as quickly,” Ferguson said. “I thank Mayor Bowser and the D.C. Council for recognizing that the key for us to make up ground begins with additional funding to market our destination. Welcoming back business meetings and overseas travelers are also crucial factors to recovery.”

D.C. tourism data shows that in 2021, the city’s domestic visitation was 18.8 million (up 44% over 2020; down 17.5% over 2019). Visitors to the city in 2021 spent $5.4 billion (up 45% over 2020; down 34% over 2019) and supported 57,933 local jobs (up 41% over 2020; down 27% over 2019).

Bowser said in 2019, the city welcomed almost 25 million visitors.

“They came for work, for vacations, for field trips, and while they were here, they stayed at our hotels, shopped at local businesses, and ate at our restaurants,” the mayor said. “For us, that means jobs for our residents and it means revenue that we can reinvest into our neighborhoods.”

The rally is an annual event held during the U.S. Travel Association’s National Travel and Tourism Week. The travel industry supports 10% of all U.S. jobs.

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