Tourists spent more than $3 billion in Arlington County last year, supported more than 25,000 jobs and produced over $200 million in local and state tax revenues, all record highs.
According to figures released by the U.S. Travel Association, tourism in the county generated $3.12 billion in 2016, up 2 percent from the previous year. Arlington continued to lead all Virginia counties in visitor spending, as it has since 2009.
“Tourism continues to be an incredibly vibrant sector in Arlington’s economy,” Arlington County Board chair Jay Fisette said in a statement. “Through jobs, spending at Arlington businesses and tax revenues that support local schools and services, tourism will always be a key to our economic growth.”
The 2016 tourism data is based on spending by visitors from inside the United States, from trips taken 50 miles or more away from home.
“These excellent results are a testament to the strength of our hospitality community and its longstanding collaboration with the County in marketing Arlington to potential visitors,” Arlington Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Kate Bates said in a statement. “We are proud of the exceptional work of our hotels, whose dedication to top quality service continues to attract more visitors to our area.”
Victor Hoskins, director of Arlington Economic Development, said support from the County Board and Chamber for increased investment in tourism promotion has been crucial.
“It has dramatically expanded our ability to showcase Arlington and its businesses to meeting planners, consumers, tour operators and journalists – domestically and around the globe,” Hoskins said in a statement.
Flickr pool photo by Starbuck77
Police Investigating Shooting in DoD Office Building — Arlington County police are investigating a fatal shooting in the Defense Department’s Taylor building, at 2530 Crystal Drive in Crystal City. The shooting happened this morning and initial reports suggest it was self-inflicted.
Lyon Village Profiled by WaPo — “Close to both the Clarendon and Court House Metro stops on the Orange and Silver lines, Lyon Village is the kind of neighborhood where families know their neighbors, children play and parents can walk almost everywhere.” [Washington Post]
ACPD Recruiting for Citizen’s Police Academy — Applications are currently being accepted for the Arlington County Citizen’s Police Academy. The academy “was designed to create a better understanding and communication between citizens and the police through education.” Applicants are subject to background checks before acceptance into the program, which shows the “inner workings” of the police department. [Arlington County]
Arlington Hosts Travel Trade Show Attendees — Arlington County hopes to get a big tourism and economic boost from its promotional efforts during this year’s U.S. Travel Association IPW trade show, which was held in D.C. for the first time. The county, in partnership with the Rosslyn BID, JBG Companies, and Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall, also hosted 150 trade show attendees in Rosslyn on Monday. [Arlington County]
Crystal City Startup Gets Big Funding Boost — Arlington-based private detective booking startup Trustify has raised more than $6.5 million as part of its latest fundraising round. The company recently opened a new office in Crystal City. [Washington Business Journal]
Letter to the Editor: Kids Over Dogs — The writer of a letter to the editor of the Sun Gazette newspaper doesn’t understand why, in county government, there seems to be more urgency over proposed changes to a dog park than making sure there is enough land to build new schools to keep up with rising enrollment. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
Bad Morning for Metro — There were significant delays on the Blue, Orange, Silver and Red lines this morning, as various train, power and switch problems were reported. [Washington Post]
The Cable Was Out, Too — Not only were more than 3,000 Dominion residents affected by a power outage on Super Bowl Sunday, but Comcast was having problems, too. Scores of Arlington and Alexandria residents lost their cable TV and/or internet service during the big game. Comcast blamed a “generator fire” at the Ballston mall as well as a “burned fiber.” [NBC Washington]
Lander Lands Primary Challenge — School Board member James Lander has picked up a challenger in this year’s Democratic endorsement caucus. Maura McMahon, an Alcova Heights resident who’s been active in various PTA organizations, says she’s running to provide “fresh thinking and better solutions.” [InsideNova]
Arlington Man Wins Krispy Kreme Challenge — Arlington resident Nick Oltman, 29, has won this year’s Krispy Kreme Challenge in North Carolina. The race involves running 2.5 miles to a Krispy Kreme store, eating a dozen glazed donuts, and running 2.5 miles back. Oltman, a Marine, posted a time of 30:15. [News & Observer]
Why VDOT Was Pre-Treating Roads Last Week — You might have noticed the long trails of brine on VDOT maintained roads and highways last week and wondered why they were pre-treating roads with no snow or ice in the forecast. The agency says their crews started treating roads earlier in the week while some forecasts suggested a possible winter storm on Sunday. [Capital Weather Gang]
Arlington’s New Visitor Guide — The 2017-2018 Arlington Visitors Guide has been released. The 32-page guide highlights attractions, amenities and events Arlington has to offer, specifically geared to tourists. [Stay Arlington, Issuu]
A local developer is proposing to build a 325-foot Space Needle-like tourist destination, dubbed the Spirit of America Tower, in Rosslyn.
The tower would be built on VDOT land alongside Route 110, near the junction with I-66, and would be designed to be a first stop for visitors to the nation’s capital, according to developer James H. Burch.
From a description of the project:
The Spirit of America Tower is going to be an interactive, introductory museum about Washington, D.C. and the founding principals of our country. People come to Washington, D.C. and rarely get an introduction to the whole city; rather, they see it piece-meal. The Spirit of America Tower will not only give that introduction to the city and its founding principles, but also take note of the fact that every individual has a unique talent or gift, and that this country was founded so that they could fulfill their dream. This monument will be one in which they see the radical beauty in those plans and that they have the opportunity to live up to the founders’ hopes for America.
Burch was a former owner of the land on which National Harbor now sits; he sold it after proposing a mixed-use townhouse-and-office project called the “Bay of America.” Burch also recently bid, unsuccessfully, on the redevelopment of the World Trade Center in New Orleans.
The Spirit of America Tower, Burch says, will feature a modern design — “lofty yet very real, and a visceral experience” — from the firm behind the One World Observatory on the top of One World Trade Center in New York City. Early concept sketches show at least three levels on the tower: an observation deck, a landing deck and an event facility deck.
“It will be designed by the best visionary firms available… with interactive depictions of historic events, and then guides/storytellers who tell the stories of Washington, D.C.,” Burch told ARLnow.com. “It is also a spectacular view.”
“The Tower is projected to be on a VDOT property just outside Rosslyn at the foot of Wilson Boulevard, between River Place and the Potomac River,” he said via email. “It will be 325′ tall, about 100′ lower than the Rosslyn skyline, and below the National Airport height limitation of 328′. It will be one floor of parking (all parking on site), one floor of introductory experiences on top of the garage, and all covered by a 4-acre landscaped public park, with walking and bike paths. There will be one 10,000 sq. ft. floor at the top of a spindle, accessed by glass elevators, and another 10,000 sq. ft. floor at that elevation for events — 650 sit-down dinner or 1,000 for a standing reception.”
“The only way in or out will be via Wilson Boulevard, where a new road will go under the tunnel and into the property via a bridge or a tunnel,” he continued. “The Commissioner of VDOT has said that this will not be an engineering problem, and our traffic engineer has said that we will not cause noticeable traffic congestion.”
Another part of the plan: a possible connection to the Potomac River.
Virginia tourism officials have started a new marketing push to bring more LGBT travelers to the Commonwealth.
Virginia Tourism Corp. yesterday announced it has a new LGBT travel website, which notes that “Virginia is for all Lovers.”
Visitors to the website can find LGBT-friendly hotels, restaurants, shops, wineries, breweries and attractions. The site also has a “Virginia is for Lovers Pride Shop” with hats, pins and T-shirts for sale.
“Virginia is proud to be an open and welcoming destination for every visitor attracted by our scenic mountains and beaches, as well as our world-renowned restaurants, wineries and breweries,” Gov. Terry McAuliffe said in a statement. “I am pleased the Virginia Tourism Corporation has created this landing page to connect travelers with inclusive, LGBT-friendly establishments across the Commonwealth.”
The website came out of recommendations from the LGBT Tourism Task Force, which McAuliffe put together last year.
Members of the LGBT community make up about 5 percent of Virginia tourists, according to Virginia Tourism Corp. They also take longer trips to Virginia and spend more money in the Commonwealth than all other visitors there, the tourism authority noted.
“A vacation in Virginia is all about doing the things you love to do with the ones that you love, and we are thrilled to offer this new resource for the LGBT community, their friends, and their families, to help them plan the perfect vacation in Virginia,” Rita McClenny, president and CEO of Virginia Tourism Corp., said in a statement.
Image via Virginia Tourism Corp.
Tourism Spending Record in Arlington — Visitors to Arlington spent about $3.1 billion in 2015, a new record. That’s up 3 percent compared to 2014. The tourism spending generated $86 million in county tax revenue and $115 million in state tax revenue. [Arlington County]
New ART 92 Schedule Starts Today — A more frequent ART 92 bus schedule starts today, with buses running every 15 minutes during peak times. ART 92 runs from Crystal City to Long Bridge Park to the Pentagon. [Arlington Transit]
Cesar Millan in Crystal City — ‘Dog Whisperer’ star Cesar Millan was spotted walking the streets of Crystal City on Sunday. Millan was in town filming a new show, Cesar Millan’s Dog Nation, which will air on the Nat Geo Wild channel. [Patch, Twitter]
Arlington ’40 Under 40′ Honorees — The Leadership Center for Excellence has announced this year’s Arlington “40 Under 40” honorees. The 40 Under 40 luncheon will be held Dec. 2. [InsideNova]
Photos from Weekend Events — Pleasant late-summer temperatures helped drive big turnouts at Clarendon Day and Pups and Pilsners this weekend. Meanwhile, ARLnow’s Fall Beer Mega Tasting Event at Arrowine drew a (relatively) big crowd as well.
Flickr pool photo by Angela Pan
School is back in session, work is heating up and vacation time is over. Or is it? We in the “DMV” are fortunate to have the “P” waiting to welcome us just to the north.
Pennsylvania is close enough for interesting day trips to historic city sites–where you can be out in the morning and back at night–and big enough for extended stays in scenic countryside that varies from picturesque lake fronts to slow rising mountains.
The scenery amid Pennsylvania’s 46,055 square miles seems to change every few miles: If you make the drive north and a little west from points in D.C. and Northern Virginia, you’ll reach the 51 miles of shoreline with Lake Erie; go east and you’ll get to the 57 miles of shore along the Delaware Estuary.
In between are opportunities to explore the Poconos and the Alleghenies, the Lehigh and Susquehanna Valleys, as well as, of course, the history, arts and cultural offerings of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
Need ideas for destinations and activities? There is the handy “Happy Traveler” guide created by the Pennsylvania Tourism Board that catalogs the Keystone State’s highlights as well as some of the attractions off the beaten path (a trip along Dutch Country roads, anyone?). Download it at this address.
Meanwhile, consider some of these day trips that are an easy drive from D.C. and NoVa and start making plans for one- to three-day weekends this fall.
- York: Explore Colonial history at the York Heritage Center.
- Pittsburgh: Celebrate the city’s 200th birthday (born: 1816!) at the Senator John Heinz History Center.
- Hershey: Hmmm. Let’s think. Oh, right, chocolate. Explore the candy at Hershey Chocolate World.
- Bethlehem: Speaking of candy, did you know PEEPs were invented in Pennsylvania in 1953? Get the facts at the PEEPs Company Store.
- Nazareth: Speaking of inventions, C.F. Martin built his innovative Martin guitars here. Visit the museum and factory here.
And we didn’t even get to Gettysburg yet.
The preceding post was sponsored by Pennsylvania tourism and written by Buzz McClain
Fairfax Wants Arlington’s Tourism Dollars — Fairfax County wants Arlington’s crown as the biggest tourism center in Virginia. “It’s our goal to beat out Arlington, and we’re going to continue giving it all we’ve got,” said Fairfax’s tourism chief, who is pushing for the county to build a new convention center. [InsideNova]
Free House in South Arlington — Here’s some truly affordable housing: a historic, all-steel Lustron house is being offered for free in south Arlington, to anyone willing to haul it away. [Twitter]
Super Pollo Wins Commuting Competition — Super Pollo in Ballston has won a county-sponsored competition “designed to encourage the Hispanic workforce to use modes of transportation other than driving alone when commuting to work.” [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
ACPD Shrouding Badges for Fallen Officer — The Arlington County Police Department is shrouding its badges to pay respect to Ashley Guindon, the rookie Prince William County police officer who was shot and killed in the line of duty on Saturday. [Twitter]
Tourism Tax Authorization Passes Legislature — With bipartisan lobbying help from County Board member John Vihstadt (I), a measure reauthorizing Arlington’s hotel tax surcharge has passed the Virginia General Assembly. Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) still must sign the bill into law, and Arlington will have to get it reauthorized in two years due to a sunset clause. The tax will help fund Arlington’s tourism promotion efforts. [InsideNova]
Laich Traded to Toronto — Just a couple of days after he left a server a big tip at Don Tito in Clarendon, long-time Washington Capital Brooks Laich has been traded to Toronto. Laich and celebrity fiancée Julianne Hough were often spotted hanging out at Arlington bars like Don Tito and A-Town. [WJLA]
Wakefield on It’s Academic — Wakefield High School was scheduled to compete on an episode of the local TV quiz show It’s Academic on Saturday. [Twitter]
‘Treasure Island’ Reviewed — Arlington-based theater company Encore Stage and Studio has garnered positive reviews for its production of “Treasure Island,” which runs through March 6. [DC Metro Theater Arts]
Shirlington’s ‘Hula Girl’ Makes Mai Tai for Fox 5 — Mikala Brennan, the owner of Hula Girl Bar and Grill in Shirlington, stopped by Fox 5 midday show Friday to show viewers how to make her signature Hula Girl Mai Tai. [Fox 5]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
In 2014, Arlington had 6 million visitors who spent nearly $3 billion in the County, making Arlington the number one county for economic impact of tourism in Virginia.
This is a substantial boost to our local economy. In just tax dollars alone, tourism revenue generates approximately $81 million in County taxes and $108 million in state taxes per year. Without these revenues, each Arlington household would pay an average of $1,800 each year in taxes to receive the same services.
Tourism also accounts for about 25,000 jobs in Arlington. As the President & CEO of the Chamber, I’ve had the pleasure of working with many in our hospitality industry who work hard every day and reflect positively on our community to those who visit.
Every year the Chamber hosts our Hospitality Awards which recognizes individuals in the industry who go above and beyond. These awards are not for managers or properties, but for the front-line individuals who make a difference – whether it’s the concierge who takes off his own tie and irons it for a guest who spilled mustard on his, or the parking attendant who rescues a guest during a blizzard. These are the people who make Arlington’s first impression on visitors and keep them coming back to our great county.
While our hospitality industry is thriving, its potential to grow has been significantly limited by budget constraints. As the chart below shows, the Arlington Convention and Visitors Service’s budget pales in comparison to our neighboring jurisdictions’ tourism budgets. While the ACVS staff is effective with the resources available, they are severely financially constrained.
More than twenty years ago, the Chamber successfully lobbied the General Assembly for an additional 0.25% Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) surcharge on hotel rooms in Arlington with all revenues to fund tourism. The Chamber has an active Hotel General Managers Committee who were, and continue to be, fully supportive of this. Even with this tax, our hotel room tax rates are extremely competitive, particularly compared to DC. This is a surcharge that pays for itself in additional revenue generated.
The TOT surcharge had a three year sunset clause and was renewed consecutively until 2011 when it lapsed. That lapse had nothing to do with tourism, but with the political climate in Virginia and some legislators’ view of Arlington.
The Chamber is working hard to make sure that politics don’t get in the way of what is not only good for Arlington County, but also good for Northern Virginia and the entire Commonwealth. Reinstating the additional TOT has been the Chamber’s top legislative priority this session. We have worked closely with the entire Arlington delegation to the General Assembly on this issue, with Senator Janet Howell introducing SB160 and Delegate Patrick Hope introducing HB 1147. I, along with our Chair Todd Yeatts and a number of Chamber members, have gone down to Richmond several times for these hearings. At this time SB160 has passed the Senate and HB 1147 passed the House of Delegates just last week.
The Arlington Chamber is hopeful this legislation will be signed into law by Governor McAuliffe and is incredibly optimistic about the impact these additional tourism funds will have not only on Arlington business, but the larger community.
Four File to Run for School Board — It looks like there are four candidates running for two Arlington School Board seats this year. Incumbent Nancy Van Doren is running for reelection, while School Board member Emma Violand-Sanchez is retiring. First-time candidates Tannia Talento and Michael Shea are seeking the Democratic endorsement for School Board, while Realtor Chaz Crismon has filed papers to run without seeking the endorsement. [InsideNova]
More on Complete Streets Plan — The Arlington County Board approved a new Neighborhood Complete Streets program last month. The program ranks road projects by “points” earned by problems like speeding issues, frequent crashes, poor lighting and a lack of sidewalks, plus proximity to schools and transit. Some residents, however, are unhappy that the program doesn’t allow neighbors to directly vote on projects in their community. [Arlington Connection]
Arlington May Get Its Tourism Tax Back — Five years after having its ability to impose a 0.25 percent hotel tax surcharge stripped by the Virginia General Assembly, as retribution for the county’s I-395 HOT lanes lawsuit, the state legislature may be poised to finally give Arlington its tax authority back. Revenue from the hotel tax funds the county’s tourism promotion efforts and is supported by the local tourism industry. [InsideNova]
It’s Ash Wednesday — Among the churches placing ashes on the foreheads of commuters at local Metro stations for Ash Wednesday this morning was Calvary United Methodist Church in Aurora Highlands, which greeted commuters at the Pentagon City Metro station. [Facebook]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
More Metro Delays — A disabled train outside of the Farragut West Metro station produced big delays for those heading into Virginia via the Orange, Silver and Blue lines this morning. [Twitter]
Local Credit Card Holiday Spending — Arlington residents are charging an average of $718.43 on credit cards for holiday gifts this year, estimates the website Nerd Wallet. While that seems like a high number, collectively those in Arlington buying holiday gifts without using a credit card are missing out on $138,846.46 in rewards points, the website says. [Nerd Wallet]
Arlington Still Tops for Va. Tourism — Arlington remains the top tourism destination in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The county attracts more than 6 million people who spend nearly $3 billion here and generate some $81 million in local taxes annually. The tourism industry accounts for about 25,000 jobs in Arlington. [Arlington County]
County Unveils New Online Calendar — Arlington County has rolled out Arlington Today, a new and improved calendar of local events. First up this morning on the calendar: a performance by The Rocking Chairs, the “in-house band” of the Lee Community and Senior Center. [Twitter]
Local Startup Raises $16 Million — Want to start a company in Arlington that can raise big bucks? Do so in the cybersecurity field. Data security software maker ThreatConnect, which recently moved from Shirlington to the Ballston area, has raised $16 million in a new round of funding. [DC Inno]
Arlington Recognized as Bike Friendly Community — Arlington has been named a Silver-level “Bicycle Friendly Community” for the third time since 2007. We’re one of 75 communities in the U.S. to achieve that rating. [Arlington County]
First Day of Fall — Today marks the autumnal equinox and the first day of astronomical fall in the Northern Hemisphere. We’re losing about two-and-a-half minutes of daylight per day, as the sun rises later and sets earlier. [Capital Weather Gang]
Arlington Unveils New Mobile Visitors Center — Arlington County, which generates about $81 million per year in tourism-related tax revenue, has unveiled a new mobile visitor center. The “Stay Arlington” branded cargo van will provide visitor information and services, primarily from parking spots near five Arlington Metro stations, but also at large events like the Marine Corps Marathon. [Arlington County]
New Traffic System on I-66 Underwhelms — Drivers are scratching their heads, wondering what exactly VDOT is accomplishing with its new, $39 million Active Traffic Management system. The system went live last week. It “combines sensors, cameras, computers and signs to help drivers figure out what’s ahead between Route 29 in Gainesville and the D.C. line.” [Washington Post]
ACFCU Launches New Marketing Campaign — The Arlington Community Federal Credit Union, a nonprofit local financial provider and ARLnow.com advertiser, has launched a new website, NotABank.org as part of a new marketing campaign. “We are for people, not for profit,” the website says.
Pike Office Building Purchased — Bethesda-based Cascade Realty Partners has purchased the 30,000 square foot office building at 3401 Columbia Pike for $4.8 million. The office building is 75 percent leased to Bank of America. [Virginia Business]
Arlington Generates $3 Billion in Travel Spending — Arlington County generated $3 billion in tourism spending in 2014, a 5 percent increase over 2013, according to data released Monday. Tourism supports almost 25,000 jobs in Arlington and generated $80 million in local tax revenue. Arlington accounted for about an eighth of Virginia’s $22.4 billion in tourism spending. “These record numbers are a testament to the excellent quality and value of Arlington’s travel and tourism offerings, and the strong collaboration between the County and local businesses in promoting our destination both domestically and internationally,” said Arlington Economic Development Director Victor Hoskins. [Arlington County]
Tejada: Crazy Transportation Ideas Better Than No Ideas — Retiring Arlington County Board member Walter Tejada says monorail-like pod transit on Columbia Pike may seem like a crazy idea, but at least it’s an idea. “The JPods or gondolas – some folks might chuckle, but at least the residents are coming up with options, and those who oppose things are not,” he said in an interview. [WTOP]
Moran: Federal Shutdown Coming — Former Democratic congressman Jim Moran, who represented Arlington in Virginia’s Eighth District, says he believes a federal government shutdown is coming because of a budget impasse between Republicans and Democrats. “We have a dysfunctional legislative branch,” said the 12-term congressman, who took a job as a legislative advisor for a D.C. law firm after leaving office. [WTOP]
Future I-66 Tolls May Be Steep — A plan to toll vehicles with fewer than three occupants on I-66 may cost commuters up to $16 round trip just for travel between D.C. and the Capital Beltway. [Washington Post]
County to Buy, Tear Down Home for Park — The Arlington County Board on Saturday is expected to approve the purchase of a home at 2827 N. Harrison Street. The county plans to raze the home and incorporate the 9,632 square foot site into adjacent Chestnut Hills Park. The total cost will be nearly $800,000 and will come from the county’s parkland acquisition fund. [InsideNova]
New Homeless Shelter to Open Next Month? — Months delayed, Arlington’s new year-round homeless shelter is getting closer to opening. The facility in Courthouse, located across the street from police headquarters, is now expected to open by late September or early October. [InsideNova]
Orange Line Delays Reported — Passengers are reporting delays of 10-20 minutes on the Orange Line this morning. Metro says inbound trains are indeed delayed from Vienna. No problems have been reported with Silver Line trains so far. [Twitter]
County Producing International Tourist Videos — Arlington County is working with the group Brand USA to produce tourism videos aimed at international visitors. Filming took place around various Arlington landmarks last month. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Mark White