- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 4, 2007

A Washington tourism group wants to know what you like about your city.

The Washington, DC Convention and Tourism Corp. (WCTC), a nonprofit organization responsible for marketing the city, has set up a Web site, www.shareyourdc.com, to gather responses from residents.

The survey includes questions about what makes D.C. unique and what tips locals would give first-time visitors. It even asks locals what they call their home: D.C., the District, the capital, the nation’s capital, Washington or even Greater Washington.

The survey comes along as the tourism industry gets more competitive. The District’s $12 million tourism budget has to compete with cities such as New York, which spends $45 million, and Orlando, Fla., which spends $74 million, to bring in visitors.

The WCTC plans to use the results to generate images and words to describe what locals think of the District to develop a brand. The results will be used in the WCTC’s marketing programs, specifically for the summer, said Victoria Isley, senior vice president of marketing and communications at the WCTC.

“Residents and workers are the greatest ambassadors for the city, so we need to hear what they think about D.C.,” said William A. Hanbury, president and chief executive officer of the WCTC. “What they tell friends, family members and potential visitors helps to shape D.C.’s overall reputation and often impacts whether someone chooses to visit.”

The WCTC also is asking nonresidents what they think of the District, specifically people in New York, Philadelphia and other cities that attract the most visitors.

The site will track the program’s progress and is expected to remain active through April.

Money goes to honey

The holidays may be over, but Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.

Men are expected to spend an average of $156 on Valentine’s Day gifts this year, while women are expected to spend about half of that: $85, according to the National Retail Federation, a D.C. trade group.

“Men continue to be the primary spenders when it comes to splurging on gifts for Valentine’s Day,” said Tracy Mullin, NRF president and chief executive officer. “Men may be looking at Valentine’s Day as a way to make up for that HDTV they splurged on for the Super Bowl.”

The top gifts continue to be flowers, cards, candy, an evening out and jewelry.

More Valentine’s Day facts from the NRF:

• 189 million roses were produced last year for Valentine’s Day.

• 8 million conversation hearts will be produced this year — that’s enough to say “You’re Mine” from Rome to Valentine, Ariz., and back — 20 times.

In other news …

• Construction is scheduled to start this month on the Heights, an American-cuisine restaurant planned for 14th Street in Columbia Heights. The restaurant, from the EatWell DC Management Group, is scheduled to open in May 2007.

• Where’s the beef? 2941 Restaurant on Fairview Park Drive in Falls Church recently received a shipment of genuine Japanese Kobe beef. It is one of the few restaurants in the United States to sell the specialty.

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

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