- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 25, 2006

Washington, get ready for your closeup. A New York company is bringing its tours of famous movie and television scenes to the District.

The Exorcism stairs, the Hotel Washington and Lincoln Memorial — featured in “The Exorcist,” “The Godfather: Part II,” and “Wedding Crashers,” among many others — will make up some of the bus tour On Location Tours plans to start in September.

“There are a lot of different ways to see Washington; this is really about the locations,” said Cathy Wilke, a spokeswoman for the company, which has been doing tours of film and television sites in New York for seven years.

The tour, priced at about $34, will depart Union Station — which is the setting for scenes in “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” “Hannibal” and other films — by bus and head to the National Mall and Federal Triangle. From there it will go to Georgetown, where participants will walk to the famous stairs from “The Exorcist,” and the Shops at Georgetown, which was featured in the films “True Lies,” “Timecop” and “No Way Out.”

On Location is still tweaking the tour and plans to add sites from television shows that have filmed here, including “The West Wing” and “X-Files.”

The Washington tour is On Location’s first foray outside of New York. It also plans to expand to Miami and San Francisco. Ms. Wilke said On Location chose Washington because of its proximity to its home base in New York and the number of movies and television shows that film here.

Tourism pushes for national campaign

Tourism industry executives asked for funding for a national tourism campaign and for the implementation date of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) to be pushed back during a Senate subcommittee hearing on the state of the U.S. tourism industry Thursday.

The WHTI will require visitors from Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean to have passports or a new alternative, a Pass card, to enter the United States by land after Dec. 31, 2007. Visitors flying or sailing to U.S. borders will need to meet the requirement at the end of this year.

Jay Rasulo, chairman of the Travel Industry Association of America and Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, and Jonathan Tisch, chairman of the Travel Business Roundtable and Loews Hotels, said the government and industry need more time to work out the details of the Pass card, which will contain biometrics data. Specifically, they said cruise lines are booking trips without clear documentation information.

Mr. Rasulo and Mr. Tisch also lobbied for funding for a U.S. tourism campaign abroad. The United States’ international travel market share has fallen 35 percent since 1992 as other countries have stepped up their marketing efforts.

Baltimore tries Restaurant Week

Two tourism groups are organizing Baltimore’s first restaurant week, to be held later this summer.

The Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association and Downtown Partnership of Baltimore will hold Restaurant Week July 24 to 28. Participating restaurants will sell select fixed-price three-course dinners for $30 and two-course lunches for $20.

Washington held its ninth restaurant week in January.

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

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