Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Wednesday that the D.C. SHOP, EAT, PLAY, STAY Giveaway is in full swing.
The contest is part of an effort to jump-start the tourism industry after more than a year of lockdown. Tourism is a key part of D.C.'s economy, and officials are hoping that tourists can return this summer as COVID-19 restrictions are slowly lifted.
But, according to Elliott Ferguson, CEO of Destination D.C., it will be years before tens of millions of tourists travel to D.C. as they did before the pandemic. Ferguson also said that international tourists, who account for approximately 40% of tourism dollars, will not be returning this year.
“We love all visitors, but the international visitor stays longer and spends more, so they’re extremely important to us," Ferguson said. "We know one thing is that right now we’re not ready for international travel and the data tells us that it’s probably going to be 2024 before we rebound to the numbers in which we were at."
The plan this year is to attract tourists who can drive to D.C., according to Ferguson.
“We recognize the fact that there're 50 million people that live within four hours of Washington D.C. and that’s our market. Not everybody is confident in terms of travel and maybe flying,” Ferguson said.
Mayor Bowser said she hopes to be able to roll back more restrictions in time for the July 4 celebrations.
She also announced the D.C. SHOP, EAT, PLAY, STAY Giveaway, sponsored by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, where people can win big bucks to spend at local restaurants, hotels and stores.
The prizes range in value from $500 to $25,000 and give 51 winners the opportunity to, like the name suggests, shop, eat, play and stay at select D.C. retailers, restaurants, hotels and entertainment venues.
“That’s going to help people get back to having fun in D.C. We will have 51 winners with five grand prize winners who are going to get $25,000 each,” Bowser said.
Contestants must be a resident of D.C., Maryland or Virginia to enter and must be 21 years old at the time of entry. To enter, click here.