By Peter Granitz
With the Cherry Blossom Festival now in full swing, boosters for the District’s tourism industry are readying for the spring and summer.
Elliot Ferguson says the 16 day festival could inject as much as $82 million into the local economy. And it’s just the beginning. Ferguson, the president of Destination D.C. says the Cherry Blossom Festival signals the opening of the money-making season.
“Well the Cherry Blossom Festival for us really is the beginning of spring and the tourism season. Many visitors come into the District to the tune of a million people with 45 percent of them coming from outside the Washington area,” says Ferguson.
Rich Bradley, the Executive Director of the Downtown Business Improvement District, sees the festival as a way to make more money for the area in the long term. He estimates the region could reap an extra $100 million from this year"s event, and hopes to brand the festival as the official announcement of Spring.
”New York uses the Christmas tree lighting at Rockefeller Center, or perhaps more importantly the Macy’s Day Parade and then concludes with the New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square. They pretty much announce the winter,” says Bradley.
The tourism industry in D.C. is worth more than $5.5 billion dollars.