Travel Professionals Foresee Years of Growth

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Byline: Meredith Somers, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Neither sequestration nor earthquake repairs can keep visitors from the District Au at least thatAAEs what tourism officials predicted Tuesday as they released record numbers for the cityAAEs travel industry.

Tourists spent $6.2 billion in the city last year, an increase of $200 million compared with 2011, thanks in part to an uptick in domestic and international travel and the strengthening economy.

WeAAEre moving in the right direction in terms of visitation to Washington, D.C. said Elliott Ferguson, president and CEO of Destination DC. ItAAEs not leveling off. In terms of numbers, weAAEre certain to see growth year after year.

Last year was the seventh in a row that the District raked in more than $5.5 billion from tourism. That includes years with inaugurations, postseason sports games, extreme weather, construction projects and government spending cuts.

Though the Washington Monument has been closed since the August 2011 earthquake, only in recent weeks have construction crews erected scaffolding around the entire 555-foot tower in preparation for repairs.

Tourists who come somewhere like the District, they want to see things without construction, Mr. Ferguson said. Yes, thereAAEs a lot of work being done, but that doesnAAEt deter people from coming.

The U.S. Supreme Court building has been covered in canvas and scaffolding as part of its modernization project, and a yellow crane loomed over the East Building of the National Gallery of Art on Tuesday.

Earlier this year, the White House canceled public tours as a result of across-the-board federal spending cuts, and the National Arboretum announced it would be shortening its hours. …