- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Willard Intercontinental Hotel holds a rich history. It was where Martin Luther King wrote his “I Have a Dream” speech, where President Grant coined the term “lobbyist” and where President Coolidge lived and worked until the widow of Warren G. Harding left the White House.

The Willard, at 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, is celebrating the history of the hotel, which opened in 1850.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the hotel’s reopening. In 1986, the hotel was shuttered and nearly demolished. Through private investments, it was restored to its condition of the early 20th century.

“This celebrates the restoration of the great American iconic structure,” said Barbara Bahny, a hotel spokeswoman.

The hotel has not specified a number of room nights it hopes to book in conjunction with the campaign, Ms. Bahny said.

“It’s really just to highlight this incredible cache of history,” she said.

The Shakespeare Theatre Company will open a costume exhibition in the hotel tomorrow, displaying attire from the early 20th century to correspond with the start of the campaign.

In March, the hotel will display photographs and memorabilia from Coolidge’s stay in the hotel, including the president’s canceled checks.

The campaign will end in November with a play, “One Life: Walt Whitman,” and an exhibit of the poet’s works. Whitman stayed at the hotel while in Washington.

Welcoming the world

The Travel Industry Association of America has warned that the United States is losing in the international tourism market.

Jay Rasulo, chairman of the TIA and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, urged travel and tourism officials to develop a national marketing campaign and to lobby government officials to make U.S. travel easier.

The U.S. share of international travel, he said, has fallen 35 percent since 1992.

“Either we build the groundwork for restoring the United States as the world’s premier travel brand or we’ll be forced to watch other countries keep flying by,” Mr. Rasulo said.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told tourism officials that security measures enacted in 2004 have stopped 900 criminals from entering the country. “We want to [protect U.S. borders] in a way that’s efficient and a way that protects the United States,” he said.

Mr. Rasulo pointed out that foreign travelers often need to obtain visas four months before their U.S. visit from embassies that can be distant from their homes.

The Global Travel and Tourism Summit, a worldwide meeting of travel executives, will be held in Washington in April.

Setting up shop

• JBG Rosenfeld Retail filled the final 10,000 square feet of retail space at Alexandria Commons on Duke Street. Starbucks Coffee, Quizno’s Sub, tutoring company Successlab Learning Center, Zpizza and investment company Scottrade are expected to open there by March. Zpizza, which has four Northern Virginia locations, is a gourmet, health-conscious pizza restaurant.

• Retail & Hospitality runs Mondays. Contact Jen Haberkorn at jhaberkorn@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-4836.

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