“DC Is Open” Campaign Aims to Aid Tourists During Shutdown

Re-inventing tourism in the age of the shutdown

A new campaign launched Friday by a local tourism board is working to help tourists re-invent their trips in the age of the shutdown.

And yes, there's a hotline.

Destination D.C. kicked off its D.C. Is Open plan with a blitz outside the Newseum -- one of the museums that remains open in a sea of shuttered Smithsonians.

"Ideally, we were going to look at the Smithsonian or see some of the major sites," said tourist John Cooper. "But this is a great opportunity to maybe get out and see something that was not necessarily on the radar."

Tourism is the second-largest employer in the district, and as the shutdown chugs toward a third week, tourists could be considering rescheduling planned trips. But independently run museums like the Newseum, the Spy Museum and the Phillips Collection are seeing booming business as tourists continue to descend on the city.

"...[T]his is a very vibrant, live city and so we're out here letting everyone know what different museums and attractions and restaurants and activities people can do while they're here," said Theresa Belpulsi of Destination D.C.

Reps braved the rainy weather to distribute guides to navigating a not-so-shutdown city, featuring 2,000 restaurants and 55 museums and other attractions that are open for business. A free Shutdown Concierge hotline (855-332-7767) will help tourists and groups revise their itineraries.

A new Destination D.C.-produced video features must-see tourist sites that are open and welcoming visitors, including Washington sports teams, a Van Gogh exhibit at the Phillips Collection, bike and Segway tours, and of course, some of the district's best hotels and restaurants.

"We've been serving half-smokes here at Ben's Chili Bowl for 55 years," says Ben's manager Maurice Harcum in the video, behind a sizzling griddle. "And we're not about to stop now."

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