Washington DC tries to entice foreign tourists with new tagline, ad campaign

Friday, September 1, 2023


While domestic tourism is increasing as the city recovers from the virus, international tourists are glaringly missing. The Washington DC city is now attempting to entice foreign tourists with a new tagline and advertising campaign that will directly target customers.

“There’s only one D.C.,” said Elliott Ferguson with Destination DC, announcing the slogan at the Warner Theatre on Tuesday.

The campaign, intended at both foreign and domestic tourists, will highlight the city’s distinctive features, including free museums and monuments, Michelin and James Beard award-winning fine cuisine, sports teams, and culture.

“It is true — there is only one place in the world like Washington, D.C. Only one place where you can visit the White House during the day and then go to Ben’s Chili Bowl at night,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser during the presentation from Destination DC.

“Only one place where you can go to Cedar Hill and then to Sycamore and Oak in one trip. And only one place where you can take in the history of our nation, while celebrating and enjoying the culture of the 700,000 Washingtonians who call D.C. home.”

Tourism generates significant revenue for the city. Tourist spending in 2022 was $8.1 billion, up 51% from 2021, sustaining around 84,000 jobs.Domestic tourism has mostly recovered from the pandemic, returning to pre-pandemic levels by roughly 91% in 2019. However, international visitors have been reluctant to return to the nation’s capital. Only 60% of international visitors have returned.

“We know that the international market is only 7% of the visitation to Washington, but 27% of the spend. So we want all domestic visitors coming to the city, eating in our restaurants, staying in our hotels, using your services. But the international visitor has a larger economic footprint,” said Ferguson.

The “There’s only one D.C.” campaign will debut on November 1 in cities across the East Coast, including Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, and Miami. They will also visit Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle on the West Coast.

Many people in the D.C. region will recognize business entrepreneur Virginia Ali of Ben’s Chili Bowl in the campaign debut video. It was also shot in part at the restaurant, which just celebrated its 65th anniversary.
The campaign’s top foreign markets will include the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, India, France, Brazil, Mexico, China, South Korea, and Australia.

“This fall, consumers in London, will see our new ‘only one Washington, D.C.’ advertising in the black cabs,” said Theresa Belpulsi, senior vice president of tourism, sports and tourism services at Destination DC. A picture of an iconic black cab wrapped in cherry blossom decals was Belpulsi’s backdrop.

The company will also endeavor to lure tourists to the District by utilizing social media influencers. They plan to leverage sponsored influencer marketing, which, according to Future Partners, inspires more than half of all tourists to visit a place after seeing it on social media.

“We now have a dedicated specialist in-house to develop our paid influencer strategy to showcase D.C. as one of the most welcoming cities in the world,” said chief marketing officer Robin McClain.

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