- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Washington has kicked off a new summer promotion highlighting the city’s history and offering megasavings.

The new $650,000 promotional campaign, dubbed “Summer FREEdom Savings,” offers deals from more than 120 hotels, restaurants, theaters, museums and retailers. Deals range from $69 hotel room nights to two-for-one-admission to museums and discounts on theater tickets.

“This is a great package for the summer — it’s high on entertainment and low on expense,” said Mayor Anthony A. Williams at a press conference yesterday. “There’s nothing like being here in this city.”

About 82 percent of Americans are planning to make at least one trip this spring and summer, according to the Travel Industry Association of America. That’s good news for Washington as the city tries to entice vacationers from around the region.

The summer travel season is important for Washington’s tourism industry as the city continues to recover from a string of damaging events from the September 11 terrorist attacks and the Washington area sniper attacks to the war in Iraq and overall weak economy.

The District is targeting overnight visitors, who on average spend about $680 per trip, said William A. Hanbury, president and chief executive of the Washington DC Convention and Tourism Corp. (WCTC). Print, television and online advertising will appear in key markets like New York, Philadelphia, Richmond, Norfolk and the Washington area.

More than 60 hotels in and around Washington are offering packages beginning at $69 per night that include overnight accommodations; free admission to the new City Museum, which opens May 16; a guide detailing more than 120 offers from restaurants, hotels and attractions; as well as a 24-page Travel Journal for visitors to record their experience.

Along with other promotions and discounts offered around the city, area restaurants will participate in another “Restaurant Week” in late July. Since the September 11 terrorist attacks, Washington has hosted several of these restaurant promotions where participating eateries feature a special meal and discounted prices.

The city has partnered with several groups to help support the summer campaign including Metro, Conde Nast Traveler, a travel magazine and Holiday Inn Hotels of Metropolitan Washington D.C., which has donated $100,000 to the campaign.

The city has also lucked out with its exposure in Conde Nast Traveler, which has 3.2 million readers. Three D.C. restaurants — Ortanique, Zaytinya and Zola — are among 75 new restaurants worldwide highlighted in the magazine’s May 2003 issue. Washington is also featured as one of the “Seven Great American Cities” in a Conde Nast supplement. Both were editorial items and not funded by WCTC.

In addition, the agency purchased a two-page ad in the May issue for about $70,000.

Conde Nast Traveler conducted its own surveys over the last several months and found in March that 96 percent of those polled said they are willing to travel to Washington.

“Clearly D.C. remains one of America’s most popular destinations,” said Evan Gotlib, account manager for Conde Nast Traveler.

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